Without Facts on Their Side, Oil Shills Try to Buy Keystone Support on Twitter

Wed, 2012-01-18 15:24Ben Jervey
Ben Jervey's picture

Without Facts on Their Side, Oil Shills Try to Buy Keystone Support on Twitter

As the internet reacts to the State Department's bold decision to deny the Keystone XL pipeline proposal, you're likely to come across the moans and cries of the stumbling Goliaths of Big Oil. 

Having lost the Keystone XL battle, the oil industry and its shills in Washington are falling back on that old reliable strategy to spin the decision. That old reliable strategy is, of course, “spending money” to pollute the public conversation with misinformation.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the National Republican Congressional Committee want to make sure that no matter what your opinion of the decision, and no matter who you follow, that you won't be able to avoid their political spin. Both groups are paying for “Promoted Tweets” on various Twitter streams relating to the Keystone XL decision.

My TweetDeck column that tracks anything tagged #nokxl has had this propaganda sitting atop it for the last couple of hours.

Likewise, a search of the term “Keystone XL,” which was trending on Twitter around 3:30 pm Eastern, turned up this gem from the NRCC.

Playing politics? Playing politics is using the Keystone XL proposal to sabotage, as Congressional Republicans did, a payroll tax cut that would've immediately helped 160 million working Americans.

Twenty thousand jobs? How many times do we have to debunk this completely baseless stat?

So while Big Oil doesn't have the support of the Twitterverse, they have the money to fall back on the Promoted Tweet.

What is a “Promoted Tweet” anyways?

From Twitter:

  • Promoted Tweets are ordinary Tweets purchased by advertisers who want to reach a wider group of users or to spark engagement from their existing followers.

And, “Where do users see Promoted Tweets?” :

  • At the top of relevant search results pages on twitter.com. Promoted Tweets from our advertising partners are called out at the top of some search results pages on Twitter.com and through select ecosystem partners.


Big Oil may have the money to try to “buy” popular opinion, but they don't have the facts. The truth remains that Keystone XL, if built, would be an export pipeline that would do nothing to increase American energy security, would actually increase the cost of oil in the Midwest, and which would create no more than, according to TransCanada itself, 6,000 temporary jobs on any given day. And that's questionable, since in the long run, this pipeline could kill more jobs than it creates [PDF of Cornell study].

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Alex MacLean, oilsands, keystone xl, tar sands

Alex MacLean is one of America’s most famed and iconic aerial photographers. His perspective on human structures, from bodies sunbathing at the beach to complex, overlapping highway systems, always seems to hint at a larger symbolic meaning hidden in the mundane. By photographing from above, MacLean shows the sequences and patterns of human activity, including the scope of our impact on natural systems. His work reminds us of the law of proximity: the...

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