Twitter’s CEO allegedly restricted Donald Trump’s use of paid advertising on the social media platform, even though the company stock has plummeted by 77 percent since the beginning of 2013.
Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey personally overrode an “upfront deal” for the Trump campaign to pay at least $5 million to generate engagement through customized hashtag branding, according to an essay by Gary Coby, Director of Digital Advertising and Fundraising for Donald Trump’s presidential campaign.
Coby reveals that the Trump campaign signed a contractual agreement in August with Twitter for a $5 million ad buy to attack Hillary Clinton under #CrookedHillary with a Twitter-suggested emoji hand holding a bag with a dollar sign: “We had an ‘upfront deal’ with Twitter, which is a common setup where we commit to spending a certain amount on advertising and in exchange receive discounts, perks, and custom solutions.”
The deal also featured “Discounts on Promoted Trends” and “Bonus Media on Other Spending; Value Adds, such as Custom Hashtag Emojis.” Coby commented, “None of this seemed very controversial” at the time.
But just days before the first presidential debate on Sept. 26, Trump’s team received a call from Twitter’s VP of U.S. Sales, Dan Greene, who stated that the “newly evolved running stick figure emoji” had not been approved and “[t]he approval on the previously OK’d (hand/moneybag) emoji was pulled back and was no longer allowed to be used.”
Twitter (NYSE:TWTR) status has dropped fast in the last 17 months, partly due to the company developing a reputation for changing its “Abusive Behavior Policy” specifically to muzzle conservative thought leaders. An egregious example came in July, when Twitter banned Breitbart News tech editor Milo Yiannopoulos. At the time, Milo had 300,000 Twitter followers and was a top writer on the Drudge Report’s front page.
Breitbart News reported extensively on Obama bundler Chris Sacca leading a board of directors coup in June 2015 to fire popular Twitter CEO Dick Costolo and bring back founder Jack Dorsey as CEO. The Washington Post justified Milo’s banishment, with the claim that he is supposedly “one of the best-known figures” of the Internet’s “alt-right,” which the Southern Poverty Law Center declares to be racist.
Economically, Twitter’s only bright spot during 2016 was the unprecedented success of Republican Donald Trump’s viral presidential campaign, which relied on Twitter as its prime messaging tool to go over the top of biased coverage by the main-stream media.
Twitter’s attack against Trump’s digital strategy was a disruptive blow. Twitter claimed it acted because it feared litigation from “HRC.”
According to Coby, Twitter said, “We couldn’t accuse someone [the Clinton campaign] of committing a crime they did not commit or were not under investigation for.”
Coby’s sarcastically commented, “Seriously, they said this.”
But with free tweets helping Trump earn a huge polling uptick in the run-up to, and after, the first debate, both parties agreed to try a similar ad for the second debate. Twitter provided a “make good” by “admitting wrongdoing for how they handled the first” and gave the Trump campaign a $50,000 discount for a similar effort during the second debate.
Coby states that both parties’ creative teams worked to design a “moneybag with wings emoji,” to represent “govt waste and money flying away from taxpayers,” a major voter concern. Coby adds that four days before the October 9 debate, “we receive[d] approval from their policy and legal team!”
The advert plan with a Twitter PDF of the finalized emoji design moved forward:
Thursday, 10/6, we have a call with their comms team to plan the rollout, including the list of media they’ll be leaking the story and emojis to. Slated to launch at 3am ET on Saturday 10/8, with press teasers to go out on Friday 10/7, driven by their comms team.
But Coby was informed on October 7 that Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey “personally killed the emoji and notified his senior staff.” On a call that afternoon, Dorsey claimed “a last-minute legal review was triggered and they needed to pull the emoji because there wasn’t a paid-for-by disclaimer.
Coby sarcastically commented: “Again. Seriously, they said this.”
It is estimated that Donald Trump generated $5 billion in free “earned media.” Despite “tweets” keeping Trump in the news stream for 18 months, Twitter’s CEO allegedly refused to take the campaign’s money.