An activist for the Syrian crisis has written a letter to the creators of Twitter requesting that the social media organization enact a policy allowing a topic related to Syria to trend worldwide one time every day in order to raise global awareness of the events taking place within Syria’s border.
Bevin Kurian, operator of the Twitter handle @SyriaChildren, has asked in an open letter that the creators of Twitter break protocol with the hashtag algorithm currently in place so that topics from Syria can trend regularly, and without geographic restrictions.
Twitter’s current policy with trending topics is as follows:
Twitter’s Trending Topics algorithm identifies topics that are immediately popular, rather than topics that have been popular for a while or on a daily basis, to help people discover the ‘most breaking’ news stories from across the world.
This means that, while Syrian users may be tweeting about atrocities and issues in their home country on a regular basis, their topics will not gain trending status without a drastic increase in chatter in a very short time period.
Kurian also notes that, as Syrian activists actively tweet the events in their country, Twitter does not list their nation as one of the options in the trend location tab. This, according to Twitter, is because there are not enough Tweets coming from Syria to create a quality list.
Syrian activists have been trying to raise awareness while also dealing with Twitter’s policy for quite some time. One way of maximizing visibility they’ve found is to take part in concerted Twitter campaigns once every week, rallying around a single hashtag in order to make the topic trend globally.
Every Friday, at around 2 p.m. Syria time, @SyriaCampaigns Tweets out a hashtag to over 3, followers who, between 3 and 5 p.m., erupt with a barrage of tweets containing that hashtag to their followers. The idea is that this will have a ripple effect, and that, with luck, the chosen hashtag will reach global trend status. The creators of this campaign are well-versed in the elements necessary for a topic to trend. From one of their documents:
“Try and come up with original tweets, RTs do not generally count towards trending! They don’t have to be perfect. Try to get in as many tweets as you can within the 2 hours. We want to get the hashtag to trend worldwide on Twitter in order to raise awareness and to pressure news organizations and worldwide governments to take action!”
This group, affiliated with the Twitter Users for Syria Facebook page, has launched a number of successful campaigns since it began in August of last year, garnering the attention of such media organizations as the Washington Post and the Guardian.
While Twitter does not show signs of changing any policies in the near future, Twitter Users for Syria will be launching a special campaign this week in recognition of the one-year anniversary of the start of the Syrian Revolution, carrying out five Twitter campaigns: two on the movement’s anniversary, March 15, and one every day for the following three days.