Twitter — Donald Trump’s favorite communication tool — is said to have played an important role in his victory, but surprisingly, the President-elect left Twitter off the invitation list for a meeting of technology company executives on Wednesday.
A spokesman for Trump’s transition team told Reuters, “They weren’t invited because they aren’t big enough.”
Twitter’s exclusion a surprise
Twitter has a market cap of $13.85 billion. This makes it much smaller than Facebook and Amazon, both of which were invited to the New York meeting. Tesla, with a market capitalization of $31.92 billion, was the smallest company in attendance, notes Fortune.
Trump made prolific use of Twitter’s platform throughout his election campaign. Also the company actively participated in high-profile discussions on policy issues such as cyber-security and the spread of violent online propaganda. Trump was able to reach out to millions of voters and speak his mind to them because of Twitter. He leveraged his sizable following on the platform to circumvent traditional media to speak directly to the public and to bash his opponents.
During the meetings held to address technology concerns under the Obama administration, Twitter was a regular participant and an important one, considering its rampant use by terrorist groups such as the Islamic State. Therefore, Twitter’s omission from the meeting is very surprising.
Why Twitter was really omitted
Twitter rejected an advertising deal with Trump’s campaign in October. Fortune, citing a source familiar with Trump’s relationship with Twitter, said the company had to bear the brunt of it in the form of CEO Jack Dorsey not being invited for the meeting.
In the fall, the micro-blogging company received a proposal from the Trump Campaign and Republican National Committee (RNC) to spend $5 million on campaign advertising. The agreement required the company to provide custom emojis, or icons that appear with a certain phrase, for certain hashtags.
Initially, the company approved an emoji for the hashtag #crookedhillary that showed a running stick figure holding a moneybag. Later, the company objected to it, notes CBS News. To turn things favorable, Twitter offered a discount on ads and a chance to redesign the emoji. However, the new design (a moneybag with wings) also faced objection from Dorsey on October 7.
“We believe that political advertising merits a level of disclosure and transparency that branded political emojis do not meet, and we ultimately decided not to permit this particular format for any political advertising,” the company said at the time.