Twitter blocks petition supporting Houston pastors

Ed has already brought everyone up to date on the Houston pastors who found themselves looking at a subpoena for their sermons. That had plenty of people up in arms, and it quickly spilled over into social media. An online petition in support of the pastors cropped up at Houston We Have a Problem. ( As one might expect, a hashtag on Twitter quickly sprouted to direct people to the effort… #HoustonWeHaveAProblem

A funny thing happened on the way to the activism, though. Twitter blocked it.

In response to subpoenas issued by the city of Houston to pastors who spoke out on same-sex marriage, a faith-based organization launched a petition demanding that the city end its “bullying.”

Shortly after the group began spreading the petition using the hashtag #HoustonWeHaveAProblem, social media users discovered Twitter had blocked it.

Today, Twitter blamed it all on a glitch.

After being alerted, Twitter unblocked the affected characters. No problem, right? It’s a big internet with billions and billions of links and movements. (Apologies to Carl Sagan.) That should have been the end of the story. But as The Daily Signal reports, this wasn’t the first time this has happened, and there was a rather suspicious pattern.

Matthew Faraci, executive director at Faith Driven Consumer, which connects Christian consumers with faith-compatible companies, told The Daily Signal that while it is possible the two campaigns were blocked for technical reasons, it looks “suspicious.”

Faraci said:

“We saw this during #IStandWithPhil, this happened to [former Arkansas] Gov. Mike Huckabee, and we know this also happened to [actor] Kirk Cameron, so fundamentally, someone needs to ask the question: Why is there a repeated pattern of behavior here?”

Is this a “repeated pattern” we’re seeing? I don’t know. Twitter seems to be a fairly open platform. In fact, conservative Twitter and the #tcot hashtag are some huge traffic draws. Twitter is in business to boost numbers. Angering a huge swath of their users wouldn’t be good for business. In that fashion, Twitter actually seems like one of the more small “d” democratic and capitalist institutions around. (If they weren’t, Twitchy probably wouldn’t exist.)

Far easier to believe is that someone used the spam / abuse reporting system in large numbers to kill off the link and the hashtag. It’s not something that one or two people can do, but if there is a concerted effort orangized by a large group of users, they can all report a particular user or other instance of text and trigger a ban. Of course, that would mean that there would have to be a bunch of liberals out there who wanted to see the #HoustonWeHaveAProblem hashtag taken down and orchestrated an effort to do so.

Could that happen? Clearly I’m just being paranoid again.