News leaked last Thursday from a huge Twitter exposé by Project Veritas that some Twitter employees were censoring conservative Twitter accounts, and pro-Trump accounts of any kind.
Twitter engineer Steven Pierre explains a unique method coined, “shadow banning.” From what we understand, and from what Twitter employees seem to admit, it’s a form of anonymous Twitter muting – the concept is that the shadow-banned user sees that no one is engaging with the content, when really, no one is even seeing it. As (former) Twitter software engineer Abhinav Vadrevu explains, “The idea of a shadow ban is that you ban someone but they don’t know they’ve been banned, because they keep posting but no one sees their content.”
Former Twitter “Content Review Agent” Mo Norai points out that it’s completely the reviewer’s choice and doesn’t go through much extensive checking: “If it was a pro-Trump thing, and I’m anti-Trump…. I banned his whole account…. it’s at your discretion.” What’s scary is that technically, this isn’t even part of the official Twitter Rules, Norai points out.
Even scarier, Norai previously spoke with Veritas journalists in May of 2017, disclosing that in the past, Twitter would manually ban or censor pro-Trump or conservative content; but now, it’s built into the system.
I’m pretty sure every single employee at Twitter hates Trump….
– Clay Haynes, Twitter Senior Network Security Engineer
According to Twitter DM engineer Parnay Singh, the censorship of certain political viewpoints is now automated, “via machine learning.” Talking about the algorithms, Singh says, “You look for ‘Trump,’ or ‘America,’ or any of, like, five thousand, like, keywords to describe a redneck…. I would say the majority of it are for Republicans.”
But think about it, after all this, is it really surprising? We’ve seen this fascist censoring behavior from Twitter before.
Yeah, if they said this is pro-Trump, I don’t want it because it offends me, this, that. And I say I banned this whole thing….
– Mo Norai, Former Twitter Content Review Agent
If you remember, back in 2016, Twitter permanently banned right-wing activist Milo Yiannopoulos’ Twitter account. The hashtag #FreeMilo took on Twitter Trending with many people angry and claiming Twitter is infringing upon Milo’s free speech. Unfortunately, that can’t fly in court, as Twitter is a private business and reserves the right to do what they did, not that it’s morally or politically justified in the slightest.
Another notable occurrence, a few weeks ago, conservative commentator Ben Shapiro reported Rosie O’Donnell (yes, the same Rosie O’Donnell that violated federal law by bribing Republican senators to vote against the GOP tax bill) for unwanted sexual advances. Shapiro tweets out that he’s reported Rosie, and she follows up, of course. After some back-and-forth, and waiting, Twitter replied to Ben, but unsurprisingly, doing nothing in the process.
Twitter has been under fire like this several times before, such as the Roger Stone incident, as well as even censoring a political advertisement about Planned Parenthood from Representative Marsha Blackburn (R-TN). From what it seems, it doesn’t look like there’s an end to the road ahead of Twitter’s “Conservative Crusade,” so to speak. There aren’t any large-enough media corporations that are willing to call Twitter out on this. So, unless we march on Twitter’s HQ on Market Street in San Francisco, there’s not much we can do.
There is some good news, though. Roger Stone is filing a lawsuit, and Milo Yiannopoulos announced on Thursday that he is happy to be joining Stone (see below for Milo’s video talking about his history on Twitter, and joining the lawsuit).