How We Trended #Gaza on Twitter
I made some edits (in red) on December 28.
We did it! We trended #Gaza on twitter on the day that commemorated the start of the brutal 22-day Israeli war and siege on Gaza. It was an incredible day. #Gaza trended into the Top 10 for a good 9 hours at least (at the time of writing this post). Wow. So a quick recap of how it went:
- By Sunday morning, we had 74 people signed up to tweet for Gaza between 5pm and 9pm.
- I got online around noon and saw that Gaza had already risen to 0.4% Many tweeps were already online tweeting heavily for Gaza. @gyonis suggested that we try and get half-way up the trending chart by the start of the campaign. @justicentric and @smileandsubvert were tweeting insanely. Spirits were high and more people were getting online and tweeting for Gaza. Some had prepared tweets beforehand, which was very smart. And then, around 1.30 pm, #Gaza appeared on the Top 10 Trending Topics of Twitter! Of course, @justicentric was the first to notice it, cos he was monitoring all the stats like a hawk. A bit before 2pm, it was at #9:
- We went insane! We ran around (metaphorically, on twitter) not knowing what to do. We had broken into the Trending 10 already, so we couldn’t stop. We had to keep on going. Everyone was nailed to their computers or phones, tweeting, re-tweeting, linking, sharing. And @Palaestina who had AMAZING tweets lined up, including the names of every child who was killed in Gaza, got blocked. Barely after s/he warned us about it, other active members, included myself, also got blocked. We opened new accounts immediately and tweeted from there until they unblocked our accounts (which was an average of 45 minutes later). @uruknet and other tweeps reported getting blocked for up to 3.5 hours. The blocking was fishy and didn’t make a lot of sense, so you can see some ideas being bounced in the comments about why this happened. I definitely think we were being reported by people who didn’t want #Gaza to trend.
- Very quickly, #Gaza fluctuated between #7 and #8 on twitter. Hopes were very high! We couldn’t believe we had made it so early on. Over 300 tweeps had signed on to the #Gaza twibbon.
- Everything was going great.. It was close to 4pm and we were at #5! We were figuring out the techniques of trending something on twitter. Multiple hashes don’t count. The new RT function doesn’t count. Too many RTs get you blocked or helps your rivals report you as spam. Zionist assholes started showing up and promoting us all as anti-Semites. People were waking up and asking what #Gaza meant. It was awesome! This screenshot is me tweeting from my other account (cos twitter blocked me, remember?) That’s why it’s in blue:
- People were logging in and feeling so energized to see Gaza trending already, so they boosted with great tweets. I was so sure we were going to hit number one any second. And then came Hayley.
- Who Hayley is I don’t know and I don’t care to google. It was her birthday today, so suddenly (and very illogically), HappyBdayHayley shot to number 1. It didn’t make any sense! Look at the difference between #Gaza and #HappyBdayHaley on trendistic in the screenshot below. That’s us in red. How could #HappyBdayHayley shoot to number one? What made it even weirder is that @zalface discovered many spam bots like this one: @carolmeatsix that were spamming twitter with #HappyBdayHayley for hours at very high rates. How come they didn’t get blocked? This adds to our suspicion that we were being reported by people.
- The only sense we could make was that twitter didn’t want #Gaza to trend. And after HappyBdayHayley came HappyBdayHayleyBR – the Brazilian version – also trending! Ridiculous! But still, the tweeters kept signing on, news, links, videos, feelings, thoughts, cartoons, blog posts, stories, all sorts of expressions kept flowing onto twitter, all for Gaza, the Gaza Freedom March, and Viva Palestina. Eventually, we made it to #3. Yep. We hit Trending Topic Number 3 on twitter at 7:39 (+2GMT). Here’s the screenshot!
- We tried really hard after that, but couldn’t get it past #3. I believe we were stopped there on purpose. Further proof is that twitter never allowed #Gaza to appear on its main page for before you sign in. I watched it for more than 10 hours. Even when we hit and stayed on the top 5, #Gaza never showed on the main twitter.com. I was actually corrected about this by @Stand4Liberty who sent me a screenshot (below) of #Gaza appearing on the sign-in page briefly when we were top-trending. Did twitter block #Gaza from getting to #1 on purpose? Maybe, maybe not. I really don’t know. I do, however, think it is pointless to waste our time wondering if it did. We still trended for > 10 hours!
- We kept on tweeting through the night. By 11pm, #Gaza had dropped off the Top Ten Trending completely, but is still going pretty well. All in all, the feeling of being part of this campaign was amazing! We trended by the time the tweeters in North American (twitter’s largest demographic) woke up. Lots of people said they learned a lot about Gaza and Palestine today. We outnumbered the Zionist tweeters by far. By the time of posting, people who supported the #Gaza twibbon were 460 and their total followers were 379,307. @justicentric says he got over 10,000 clicks on the links he put out today, not including the links from re-tweets. @Razaniyyat and @uruknet‘s tweets were loaded with informative links and resources. @MXML wasn’t online but s/he scheduled beautifully thought-provoking tweets about Palestine and Gaza. @GhadeerM tweeted for Gaza from all her heart – although only last week she didn’t know what twitter was. There was something beautiful in all of us, strangers, coming together, from all over the world, talking collectively about a cause that matters to us, achieving a goal together. Solidarity. Using a new, creative, youthful strategy. Away from the usual rhetoric, the usual groups, politicians, and religions that hijack the Palestinian cause.
- What comes next, I’m not sure. But we’ve found each other and we’ve accomplished something together with the help of very little: a couple of blog posts, a few tweets, and a google document. Let’s all watch and tweet for the Gaza Freedom March for the next week, and all ideas of what activism we can come up with using this new network we’ve created are welcome. Make sure you join the Palestine Action Network on Facebook so we can contact you later for other campaign ideas! Thank you everybody!
I end with a beautiful tweet from @ajit8uk that just came up:
“We got to 3. We are the people. No one owns this earth. NO ONE. #GAZA”