New CEO Elon Musk on Thursday released the second sweeping batch of the “Twitter Files,” and the documents clearly prove that the platform regularly shadow-banned and blacklisted conservative voices.
The trove of information was posted by journalist Bari Weiss, who declared that Twitter employees created blacklists, blocked tweets they did not favor from trending, and even limited the visibility of accounts or trending topics they did not agree with.
It was “all in secret, without informing users.”
Laying bare the proof of what conservatives long contended, the Twitter Files starkly counter the outraged denials that poured from the company as accusations added up.
Weiss released numerous images of internal Twitter system documents that marked accounts and information to be stifled. Further, a platform engineer told her that the company controlled how visible an account was “quite a bit” and that “normal people do not know how much we do.”
THREAD: THE TWITTER FILES PART TWO.
TWITTER’S SECRET BLACKLISTS.
— Bari Weiss (@bariweiss) December 9, 2022
Specific examples of censorship include Jay Bhattacharya, a Stanford health policy professor who fought back against COVID-19 lockdowns. His account apparently was featured on a “Trends Blacklist” after he warned that the lockdowns were harmful to children.
This also was the fate of the conservative and satirical Libs of TikTok account.
Conservative radio talk show host Dan Bongino’s account was difficult to impossible to find at one time as it was moved to a “Search Blacklist.” And Turning Point USA President Charlie Kirk’s account was labeled “Do Not Amplify.”
Still another screenshot of internal messages showed Twitter’s former head of safety and integrity, Yoel Roth, asking for information on “non-removal policy interventions” such as “disabling engagements and deamplification/visibility filtering.”
These actions, termed shadow-banning, are what one senior Twitter employee described to Weiss as “a very powerful tool.” Without the account holder’s knowledge, “visibility filtering” makes the postings much less likely to be seen and spread.
For its part, Twitter in 2018 categorically denied the practice, stating flatly that “we do not shadow ban.” The platform added that it “certainly” does not suppress postings “based on political viewpoints or ideology.”
This is now clearly proven to be a lie. The second installment of the Twitter Files release further proves what the first cache revealed — that the so-called virtual town square was being manipulated to amplify liberal viewpoints while stifling those of conservatives. This must change.