Trump recently held a small summit of tech moguls at Trump Tower. Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos, Tim Cook and Sheryl Sandberg were all in attendance. But conspicuously absent from the gathering was anyone representing the social media giant Twitter. A curious circumstance, considering how influential the platform was during Trump’s campaign. Indeed, Twitter is largely responsible for the size of Trump’s public bullhorn. And apparently, the snub was deliberate.
Trump and his camp were chagrined by Twitter’s refusal to implement a “Crooked Hillary” emoji to replace the #CrookedHillary hashtag. It’s a slight that will not be readily forgiven, apparently. Twitter’s CEO Jack Dorsey won’t be getting any stocking stuffers from the President-Elect this holiday season.
Gary Coby, Trump’s director of digital advertising and fundraising, claims that Dorsey played a direct role in blocking the emoji. The Trump campaign made a $5 million with Twitter and they see their refusal of the emoji as a breach of the agreement.
“We told them it was BS and what they were doing with a public platform was incredibly reckless and dangerous,” wrote Coby in a Medium essay. There are more dangerous things in the world than emojis, but many people would share the sentiment that the company should moderate their platform impartially.
Sean Spier, a Trump adviser and RNC spokesperson, claims he called Twitter to refuse them access to the meeting. The meeting was organized by Peter Theil, one of the most famous and influential men in Silicon Valley.
Trump hasn’t responded to inquiries about their refusal to let Twitter join in the fun. Nor has anyone in his transition team. But the message seems clear: play ball or stay off the field.
“While Twitter claims to be a venue that promotes the free exchange of ideas,” opined Spicer to the Washington Examiner back in October, “it’s clear that it’s leadership’s left wing ideology literally trumps that.”
Twitter appears to be less amenable, in general, to the Trump agenda than their tech peers. They’re the only major player who have stated, officially, that they will refuse to help build Trump’s proposed registry of Muslim Americans.
Twitter has a reputation as an agent of egalitarianism and free speech, especially in light of the platform’s role in the Arab Spring and domestic political organizing, especially Occupy Wall Street. And they seem to be drawing clearer lines in the sand than Facebook or other social media giants.