Conservatives have long been saying that the social media platform Twitter has been targeting them with a process called "shadowbanning." Now, the social media giant has finally admitted to the practice of shadowbanning users. The term is used to describe a process that bans a users profile, without actually banning them. A shadowbanned user's tweets will not reach their intended audiences or generate engagement in the same way a profile normally would on the platform.
The practice of shadowbanning has been exposed by <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=64gTjdUrDFQ">employees who were secretly videotaped</a> talking about the company's behind-the-scenes inner-workings. Twitter announced Tuesday that they were taking steps to limit "behaviors that distort and detract from the public conversation" by downranking content that displays such behaviors. Content that has been downranked will be removed from search results and "public conversations", according to the company.
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<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">What twitter doesn't realize is that when you shadowban people like <a href="https://twitter.com/NameRedacted7?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@NameRedacted7</a> that a lot of people follow and interact with daily, people are going to get pissed off and call their congressman and ask why pro Trump speech is being censored. <a href="https://t.co/Uvg9PG9GsG">pic.twitter.com/Uvg9PG9GsG</a></p>— Shem Horne (@Shem_Infinite) <a href="https://twitter.com/Shem_Infinite/status/996459593898213376?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">May 15, 2018</a></blockquote>
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The problem lies in who gets to decide which content is "troll-like" and what is acceptable. If a young, liberal Twitter employee doesn't like your tweet, you're likely to get downranked and shadowbanned. The social media company has taken it upon themselves to limit the visibility of content without formally suspending the owner's account. Another problem lies in the fact that Twitter won't notify you what has been deemed inappropriate, they may not even delete the content in question which by definition is shadowbanning. Twitter users have been forced to rely on third-party websites to check if their account has been shadowbanned. Once an account has been shadowbanned, it might as well be banned because gaining any amount of meaningful traction will be effectively impossible.
That company has been very tight-lipped about the criteria that must be met for an account to be shadowbanned, but one employee was recorded admitting that accounts that post too much about "God, guns, and America" are likely to be labeled as "bots". Twitter offered a few clues in their latest statement:
<i>"There are many new signals we’re taking in, most of which are not visible externally. Just a few examples include if an account has not confirmed their email address if the same person signs up for multiple accounts simultaneously, accounts that repeatedly Tweet and mention accounts that don’t follow them, or behavior that might indicate a coordinated attack. We’re also looking at how accounts are connected to those that violate our rules and how they interact with each other."</i>
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At the very bottom of the announcement, Twitter quietly announced it had given itself the authority to restrict content even if it doesn't violate its policies. Rest in peace free speech.
<i>"These signals will now be considered in how we organize and present content in communal areas like conversation and search. Because this content doesn’t violate our policies, it will remain on Twitter, and will be available if you click on “Show more replies” or choose to see everything in your search setting."</i>
Facebook has recently been in the spotlight over alleged mishandling of users' private data, but the track record of Twitter is far worse. Critics of progressivism as well as Conservatives and Republicans have found themselves regularly booted off the platform even though they never violated any of Twitter's known guidelines. One such example was Islam critic Tommy Robinson who was permanently banned after posting statistics showing Muslims are vastly overrepresented in child grooming gangs in the U.K.
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