The Michael Bloomberg digital campaign, designed to ease the billionaire’s passage to the Democratic Party nomination for the 2020 US presidential election has fallen foul of Twitter, which has suspended around 70 accounts found to have violated rules governing platform manipulation and spam in favour of the candidate.
Sanctions range from posting restrictions to outright suspension and are designed to discourage attempts to manipulate conversations on the platform by employing multiple accounts to influence independent discussions.
A Twitter spokeswoman said: “We took enforcement action on about 70 accounts, which includes a combination of permanent suspensions and account challenges to verify ownership.”
Twitter’s rules on unacceptable interference expressly prohibit the practice of ‘coordinating with or compensating others to engage in artificial engagement or amplification, even if the people involved use only one account.’
Responding to the punishment Sabrina Singh, a Bloomberg campaign spokeswoman, commented: “We ask that all of our deputy field organizers identify themselves as working on behalf of the Mike Bloomberg 2020 campaign on their social media accounts,” said, stressing that personal content shared by campaign members was “not intended to mislead anyone”.
Bloomberg is channelling his enormous wealth into an unprecedented online advertising campaign that has seen hundreds of digital organisers recruited at a cost of up to $2,500 per month to push their candidate's message to their networks of friends and family.
This extravagance extended to a prime-time ad during the Super Bowl and has precipitated a move by Facebook to sanction US-based political candidates running branded or social content following the exploitation of a loophole allowing Instagram influencers to post humorous messages supporting his bid.