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

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

Without Facts on Their Side, Oil Shills Try to Buy Keystone Support on Twitter
Ben Jervey is a Senior Fellow for DeSmog and directs the KochvsClean.com project. He is a freelance writer, editor, and researcher, specializing in climate change and energy systems and policy. Ben is also a Research Fellow at the Institute for Energy and the Environment at Vermont Law School. He was the original Environment Editor for GOOD Magazine, and wrote a longstanding weekly column titled “The New Ideal: Building the clean energy economy of the 21st Century and avoiding the worst fates of climate change.” He has also contributed regularly to National Geographic News, Grist, and OnEarth Magazine. He has published three books—on eco-friendly living in New York City, an Energy 101 primer, and, most recently, “The Electric Battery: Charging Forward to a Low Carbon Future.” He graduated with a BA in Environmental Studies from Middlebury College, and earned a Master’s in Energy Regulation and Law at Vermont Law School. A bicycle enthusiast, Ben has ridden across the United States and through much of Europe.

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