Twitter Responds To Conservative Outrage As VICE Confirms "Shadow Ban" Reports

A Wednesday article in VICE confirmed a report from last week by the Daily Wire's Ryan Saavedra which revealed that Twitter has been "shadow banning" conservative users by limiting the number of people who are able to view content from the affected users. 

While last week's discussion focused on a site-wide "Quality Filter Discrimination" shadow ban, which prevents anyone not already following a user from viewing their posts, Vice notes that many conservative accounts aren't able to be found when typing names into the Twitter search engine. 

The Republican Party’s chair Ronna McDaniel, several conservative Republican Congressmen, and Donald Trump Jr.’s spokesman no longer appear in the auto-populated drop-down search box on Twitter, VICE News has learned. It’s a shift that diminishes their reach on the platform — and the same one being deployed against prominent racists to limit their visibility. The profiles continue to appear when conducting a full search — but not in the more convenient and visible drop-down bar. (The accounts appear to also populate if you already follow the person.)

Vice found the same wasn't true for Democrats: 

Democrats are not being “shadow banned” in the same way, according to a VICE News review. McDaniel’s counterpart, Democratic Party chair Tom Perez, and liberal members of Congress — including Reps. Maxine Waters, Joe Kennedy III, Keith Ellison, and Mark Pocan — all continue to appear in drop-down search results. Not a single member of the 78-person Progressive Caucus faces the same in Twitter’s search.

After being shown screenshots of the searches, a Twitter spokesperson told VICE News: “We are aware that some accounts are not automatically populating in our search box and shipping a change to address this.” Asked why only conservative Republicans appear to be affected and not liberal Democrats, the spokesperson wrote that “I'd emphasize that our technology is based on account *behavior* not the content of Tweets.”

The undercover investigative journalists at Project Veritas even caught a Twitter employee admitting to the shadow bans in January: 

Abhinav Vadrevu:  "One strategy is to shadow ban so you have ultimate control. 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."

"So they just think that no one is engaging with their content, when in reality, no one is seeing it. I don't know if Twitter does this anymore."

Meanwhile, Olinda Hassan, a Policy Manager for Twitter’s Trust and Safety team said on December 15th, 2017 at a Twitter holiday party that the development of a system of “down ranking” “shitty people” is in the works:

“Yeah. That’s something we’re working on. It’s something we’re working on. We’re trying to get the shitty people to not show up. It’s a product thing we’re working on right now.”

Twitter responds

Twitter's product lead Kayvon Beykpour issued a mostly useless explanation over the platform on Wednesday morning, suggesting that they're "always working to improve our behavior-based ranking models," and that their "breadth an accuracy doesn't make judgements based on political views."

CEO Jack Dorsey, meanwhile, says "It suffices to say we have a lot more work to do to earn people's trust on how we work." No word on whether that will be before or after midterms.  

We’ve heard questions from some of you relating to our work to drive healthy conversation on Twitter. People are asking us 1) about the breadth and precision of our work & 2) the impact of our work on the Search experience. We wanted to address these questions transparently here.

In May, we started using behavioral signals and machine learning to reduce people’s ability to detract from healthy public conversation on Twitter. This approach looks at account behavior & interactions with other accounts that violate our rules.

On 1) We’re always working to improve our behavior-based ranking models - their breadth and accuracy will improve over time. It’s important to note that these behavior signals are not binary, and they are one of many other signals that factor into ranking.

To be clear, our behavioral ranking doesn’t make judgements based on political views or the substance of tweets. We recently publicly testified to Congress on this topic https://judiciary.house.gov/wp-content/uploads/2018/07/Pickles-Testimony.pdf

On 2) Some accounts weren’t being auto-suggested even when people were searching for their specific name. Our usage of the behavior signals within search was causing this to happen & making search results seem inaccurate. We’re making a change today that will improve this.

We believe this work is really important to creating a healthier Twitter and we want to continue improving. Your feedback helps us do that so please keep it coming.

Meanwhile, conservative outrage erupted Wednesday in response to Vice's report. 

In May, Donald Trump's 2020 campaign manager, Brad Parscale, along with Republican National Committee (RNC) Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel, wrote a letter calling for the CEOs of Facebook and Twitter to address concerns over conservative censorship ahead of the 2020 election, as well as a call for transparency.

"We recognize that Facebook and Twitter operate in liberal corporate cultures," the letter reads. "However, rampant political bias is inappropriate for a widely used public forum."

The letter notes "In 2016, former Facebook workers reported that they manipulated the “trending” section to exclude news tailored to conservative users, despite those topics trending on their own," while "A former trending news curator admitted in an interview that nearly all members of the trending news teams identified as liberal... Moreover, some Facebook employees in 2016 reportedly pushed to ban then-candidate Donald Trump’s Facebook posts and label them as hate speech" 

Meanwhile, conservative Twitter users have accused the company of unfairly targeting them, purging thousands of their followers in an attempt to stem “fake news” content, and unnecessarily prompting them to confirm their identity. Twitter claims its tools are free from political bias, but has allegedly targeted predominantly Republicans as part of a “shadow banning” practice, which covertly limits those accounts’ visibility on the platform.

Parscale and McDaniel pointed out that during congressional testimony, Facebook apologized for suppressing "Diamond & Silk," two popular Trump supporters with a highly popular YouTube channel, which the platform deemed "unsafe to the community" for no reason.

 

They also noted that Facebook says it's "working with a third party to encourage voter registration," and asked for transparency over how those advertisements are displayed in people's news feeds. "This is to make sure that the new feature does not become essentially an in-kind contribution to liberal candidates."

Since Facebook and Twitter are platforms used widely by the majority of voters, we request an explanation about how you will ensure all content is managed equally and fairly. How will you safeguard voters’ access to fair content on your platform? How will you guarantee that conservative voices are no longer censored, and conservative news no longer buried or otherwise hidden?

In an interview with Fox News, McDaniel and Parscale reiterated their concerns: 

McDaniel: "It’s a legitimate fear. Brad and I hear it all the time as we’re traveling the country. People are very concerned that conservative voices are going to be suppressed on social media. Of course, many of their users are conservatives and so Brad and I feel preemptively, we have to get out ahead of this, talk to Facebook, talk to Twitter, ask them for transparency, let us know what you’re going to do to make sure that every voice has a say on these social media platforms especially before this critical midterm."

Parscale: "Every day I receive thousands of messages saying, “I’m being shadow-banned.” And what we want to do in this letter is make sure that we understand what's happening. We want to ask them for transparency. I think the public deserves that transparency and we need to know that conservative voices have a chance to get their message out. This is a big problem."

Watch: 

Comments

PT tmosley Wed, 07/25/2018 - 23:07 Permalink

Both Twitter and Facebook should not exist.  They should have been bypassed decades ago.  Millions of computer programmers should have made their own variants so that not one platform managed to dominate the rest.
Data "Compatability" a problem?  Why?  A couple of protocols should have sorted that out.
The fact that Twitter and Facebook exist in the form they exist suggests something is very wrong with modern computer programmers or the computer industry in general.  Oh, and YouTube and Google should not exist in their current forms either.

In the old days, if you didn't like a program then you either modified it or you wrote your own.  Twitter, Facebook, YouTube ... these programs are not rocket science.  They are first year uni projects.  Most programmers would shun them as too boring.  The fact that TFYG exist in their current forms is proof that there is something very wrong with the computer industry.

In reply to by tmosley

philipat PT Wed, 07/25/2018 - 23:27 Permalink

But it does seem incongruous in "the land of the free" that a US Company can deny broad rights granted under the Constitution, specifically the first amendment, especially for what has essentially become a public utility. Surely CONgress should have something to say on this? How about anti-trust or mail fraud? Perhaps Trump should threaten to move to another platform if they don't clean up their act?

The argument seems to be that 1) we are a private Company so can do wtf we like especially because 2) it is a free service and 3) you accepted our terms of service so suck it up conservatives.

But that being the case, why don't they just come clean and announce "conservatives are not welcome on this platform so fuck off". They seem to want to have it both ways by the use of shadow bans and other tricks, which at least can now be identified. This amounts to hypocrisy.

In other words, as things stand, it's a case of take it or leave it. And the answer should be obvious to all?

In reply to by PT

glenlloyd MozartIII Wed, 07/25/2018 - 23:53 Permalink

Seriously, I see no reason for these social media platforms to exist anymore.

Now that it's been proven that they've employed tactics to limit the reception of views different from their own I think people should just unplug from them both.

I haven't read a twitter post in over a year (good riddance)

I have only been on FB to post something for sale on a local forum.

I have made it clear to friends (in person) that they needn't try and friend me on FB and if they do and I don't respond don't take it as a person affront, it's just that I don't use the platform except as an accessory to CL where I do sell some things.

When their value goes to $0 I'll be happy.

In reply to by MozartIII

DaiRR glenlloyd Thu, 07/26/2018 - 01:03 Permalink

Twitter and Facebook's censorship of right thinking conservatives is just following the government lead of Obamunism:   Weaponizing government agencies to attack DemoRats political opponents like you and me.  Twitter and FB are not government agencies so what the hell, even easier to discriminate, harass, and screw non-Libetards.

In reply to by glenlloyd

HopefulCynical DaiRR Thu, 07/26/2018 - 08:16 Permalink

Notice the names of all the Twits bragging about shadow banning "shitty people" - aka, anyone who opposes their commie bullshit.

What's missing? Or should I say, WHO is missing?

Oh, maybe - Bob Smith? Suzie Jones?

Why, exactly, have a bunch of obvious newcomers to this country been put in charge of who here can interact with whom? Don't get me wrong; this isn't about those people took err jerbs or any such bullshit. No, it's about Americans not being in control of their society any longer.

In reply to by DaiRR

FreeEarCandy philipat Thu, 07/26/2018 - 00:05 Permalink

Those constitutional rights only apply to the government. The government cannot restrict free speech, but you and I can restrict free speech if we own the platform. You cannot run into a church and start cussing up a storm and not expect to be thrown out.

So again, the government, a public entity, can not restrict free speech. A private entity can do as they wish, as long as they own the platform.

In reply to by philipat

NiggaPleeze FreeEarCandy Thu, 07/26/2018 - 01:22 Permalink

That's not true for "public utilities", which I strongly believe FB and Twitter are.  A phone company or ISP or monopoly software company (like Microsoft) can't ban you because they don't like what you write or view, as long as it's legal.   A water or power supplier can't either.  In fact a bakery (granted it's state law) cannot not bake someone a wedding cake because they don't like the person's behavior (let alone speech).

Not saying it's something the courts should decide but platforms like FB and Twitter should be declared public utilities as they are natural monopolies and basic human rights protected against the Globalist Bolshevik thugs that run them.  Much better would be to mandate them to open up their APIs and databases to competitors - there is no reason someone has to be on the same "platform" to read a tweet anymore than one has to have the same mail service to read an email.  The protocol should be standardized.

Enough of hiding behind the red herring of "private property" to permit Bolsheviks to seize power.  Private property has limits, severely so when you open up your doors to the public.  Twitter can't ban on religious views, why on political ones?  That's unconstitutional!

In reply to by FreeEarCandy

Faeriedust NiggaPleeze Thu, 07/26/2018 - 20:27 Permalink

I'm not sure the "natural monopoly" argument holds as there definitely are other platforms -- Snapchat & Instagram, for instance -- where the younger set have already moved their social networks. There's no reason a new competing network can't be started, either.  Most people don't remember it today, but before Google Search, there were at least 4 other reasonably good search engines which could have become as good (or better) as Google is today, but they folded from Google's overpowering competition (and the Dot-com bust). Now, bluntly, I haven't been thrilled with the results at Bing or Duck-duck-go, so I keep using Google -- but I'm becoming ever-less enchanted by Google search, too, as things I KNOW are on the net fail to show up to appropriate searches.  Instead, pages and pages of crap suitable for ten-year-olds dominate results.  I'm told it works better if you let it track you and use its artificial intelligence more precisely, but I think it should do a good job based on my input without psychoanalyzing me first.  Anyway, IF this is a truly capitalist economy, then the response to social networks that cheat should be to move on and find one more suitable for adult conversations.  

In reply to by NiggaPleeze

NiggaPleeze Faeriedust Sat, 07/28/2018 - 01:20 Permalink

Snapchat and Instagram are not competitors.  Apples compared to donuts.

Learn a bit about monopolies and markets before trying to outsmart me, bud.  Particularly read about "network effect".

You may as well argue that Standard Oil did not have a monopoly because there were horses, coal and firewood.  That actually makes more sense.  In that sense nobody has a monopoly.  You don't have to use your power company, you can use a generator.  I could go on ....

In reply to by Faeriedust

Captain Nemo d… FreeEarCandy Thu, 07/26/2018 - 08:20 Permalink

The problem is again the following. I own a property in the center of the city and encourage all candidates to put up their campaign signs there. I advertise the place as one that has all signs. People come to the place to see which candidate is popular. I also earn money by placing advertisements of others alongside the campaign signs. And then after everyone has placed all their signs there, I surreptitiously remove all the signs belonging to one party or start making them look unpopular. Without even admitting this was being done. It is a sophomoric prank at best. Not how you can run a business. If twitter had advertised itself as "a platform for liberal views" then it might have been different. Remember the only content they carry is what you create. So why make you waste time and then suppress it?

In reply to by FreeEarCandy

PT Captain Nemo d… Thu, 07/26/2018 - 08:54 Permalink

Why is there only one Twitter?  Why is there not a billion "Twitters"?  What is the bottleneck?

Your real-estate-and-signs is a good analogy.  In that case, Fred OuterSurburbia can put any signs he likes in his own back yard but the trouble is that no-one will see them.  Anyone can put whatever comments they like on their own website but no-one will see them unless they go to that website.  But it is easier to redirect searchers to a website than it is to get them in a car and send them to Outer Suburbia so they can see the signs in Fred's back yard.

What is the bottleneck?  Why is there only one "Twitter"?  There should be billions of them.

In reply to by Captain Nemo d…

NiggaPleeze PT Sun, 07/29/2018 - 00:11 Permalink

Because like you, everyone else is too lazy to look for them, and the MSM only reports on the Globalist Controlled Bolshevik Control Media.

Great alternative is Gab.  Help it grow.  (And saying there's no alternative to Twitter, does the opposite.)]

Here are more, including open source, open standards ones, that permit posting across platforms (like email allows you to do, but Twitter does not, as the greedy Bolshevik pigs in charge want a monopoly for maximum control):  https://alternativeto.net/software/twitter/?license=free

In reply to by PT

WOAR FreeEarCandy Thu, 07/26/2018 - 08:34 Permalink

Except nobody gets thrown out of churches because Christians won't fight back. I remember some naked Russian chicks protesting a pastor/parish of some kind, right in his face, during a service, and he just stood there being a pious, good, Christian.

So he got walked on for as long as they wanted to be there.

You cannot be righteous and maintain your rights.

In reply to by FreeEarCandy

PT GodEmperorNanner Thu, 07/26/2018 - 07:52 Permalink

What?  You're incapable of doing anything in your free time?  Most trademen have to invest in a large amount of capital before they go out on your own.  Once you have a computer, what is stopping you? 

The fact that, as a computer programmer, you still feel unable to go out on your own suggests there is something terribly wrong with computer programming.  But alternatives to FB, Google, YouTube and Twitter are a separate argument.  The fact that every programmer is not just spitting out variants every five minutes, purely out of frustration with the current models, suggests the entire computer industry is fucked.

If you are unable to do that then you should be demanding back the money that you paid for your degree.  What did you learn for four years?  More importantly, what has been hidden from you?

Have computer, you should be building / modifying every program out there to perfectly fit your every whim.

I can't blame you for not employing yourself and building your own computer business - building any business is hard plus you need a good idea - but it should be one of your top priorities.  Sure, in some respects, programming is harder than it was 20 years ago purely due to the greater size and complexity of programs, plus most of the profitable ideas have already been done, but surely you can find a niche here or there.

https://variety.com/2003/more/reviews/masters-of-doom-how-two-guys-crea…
https://www.google.com/search?q=masters+of+doom&client=firefox-b&source…

Read them if you haven't already.  I hope it inspires you.
My "excuse" is I am forever out of date and can not update myself fast enough.  Don't ever let yourself get into that position.
Yes, it is a lot harder to do what the Doom guys did now than it was back then - but it was hard back then too.  You know how to program computers, write your own stuff.  Publish it yourself.  If you can not do that then there is something seriously wrong with the computer industry.  Or you might just be lacking ideas.  Good luck.

In reply to by GodEmperorNanner

css1971 PT Thu, 07/26/2018 - 02:45 Permalink

You are missing the problem.

1. There are perfectly functional alternatives already and they have been around for years. (E.g. Minds.com, gab.ai, bitchute.com)

2. All networks, including markets collapse to hub/spoke models because they are cheaper and easier. The level of complexity is far lower than peer to peer or distributed. This is why the Pareto distribution applies to wealth in a market.

3. As more people use a network it becomes more useful. Its value increases. This is the same for telephones, languages, markets and computer software.

Its maths. It applies everywhere, not just computers.

In reply to by PT

jin187 PT Thu, 07/26/2018 - 05:54 Permalink

Not sure what you mean.  There are/were several other large social media platforms, such as MySpace, Google+, and others no one in the USA uses.  The market actually chose the winners in this case.

Not sure what you mean by "decades ago" either.  You do realize that back then, we were using shit like ICQ, and AOL, with 28.8k modems, and that was just barely two decades ago.  Go back three decades, and it was Tandy, Commodore, and IBM, with 1200 baud modems, and shit like telnet and Q-link.  I wonder how many 5 1/4 floppys it would take to install this product that's better than Facebook on my IBM PS.

In reply to by PT

FrankDrakman PT Thu, 07/26/2018 - 08:16 Permalink

You're a moron who knows nothing about networks. It doesn't matter whether the code is simple or not; what's important is the VALUE of a network scales exponentially with the number of subscribers. Facebook with 3,000 subscribers is a fun little college thing; with 3 billion subs, it's the world's water cooler. 

There are lots of wannabe Twitters out there - Gab.ai, for example - but they don't get much traction because they don't have many subscribers. And because sites like Gab get zero exposure in the MSM, they don't get many new subs. So the problem feeds on itself. 

In reply to by PT

PT FrankDrakman Thu, 07/26/2018 - 09:06 Permalink

I assert it is possible to build a network that will bypass any centralized entity.
I assert a programmer-gone-rogue could get a Facebook or a Twitter and make a new version that delivers on the key features and bypasses whatever bullshit the owners inserted that the rogue programmers do not want.  They probably had to sign contracts saying they wouldn't do that and there are probably a couple of laws they would have to break in the process but they could do it.

I further assert that once released, the rogue-code could be modified by others into a million variants out of the control of FaceTwat Central.

FaceTwat should have died from a million cuts before it even existed.

In reply to by FrankDrakman

edotabin PT Thu, 07/26/2018 - 11:25 Permalink

Yes. Unfortunately, it isn't programming complexity that makes or breaks these things. It is the media pumping it constantly for years which sends millions of users to those platforms. If you wrote a "conservative" twitter/facebook/google program nobody would pump it and you wouldn't have the user base. It is the difference between youtube and dailymotion for example.

I could never get over why someone didn't create an alternative until I realized these things are simply part of the "machine".

There was an old joke that said one day these platforms would combine and be called you-twit-book.

In reply to by PT

exlcus tmosley Wed, 07/25/2018 - 23:33 Permalink

STOP. USING. TWITTER.

What is so hard about that? If 5-10 very high profile people got together and all agreed on August 1st to switch to another YouTube or another Twitter, the problem would be over instantly. What's with all the whining?

You want the cake baker to be able to refuse service to anybody, but then you don't want Twitter to be able to refuse service to you?

In reply to by tmosley

Kidbuck philipat Thu, 07/26/2018 - 07:11 Permalink

Liberal platforms want to have it both ways

Which is exactly what the New York Times, the Washington Post, and Time magazine, CBS news, PBS, NBC, ABC have been doing all my life time. I have sucessfully ignored them and not willingly given them a penny. Except for PBS which steals my tax dollars openly, and all the others which took my tax money via the CIA, my boycot has worked. I am not responsible for all the stupid fucks that have been willingly suporting these communist sympathizers. 

In reply to by philipat

jin187 exlcus Thu, 07/26/2018 - 06:02 Permalink

Yeah, I don't understand why can't we just admit that silicon valley is a liberal cesspool, and let them take their ball and go home.  Fuck'em.  Trump should issue an executive order banning all federal agencies from using social media accounts, followed by a boycott from every Republican.  Let the left have their Antifabook, and we'll just pretend it doesn't exist.

TBH, I'd go even further, and ban the MSM from all press conferences, and filter the IP ranges of all their computers, so they can't even send an email to .gov without using a VPN or TOR.  Let the free press be free to report all the 3rd hand anonymous sourced news they want.

In reply to by exlcus

jin187 JLee2027 Thu, 07/26/2018 - 06:10 Permalink

To quote the late, great, Charlie Murphy, that's the gayest shit I ever heard.

What war are we fighting on Twitter?  The one to force them to adopt conservative-friendly polices, or the one to convert all the Antifa snowflakes into rational human beings?  I wouldn't piss on Twitter, or its millennial fuckboi users, even if they were on fire.

In reply to by JLee2027

Nostradumbass tmosley Thu, 07/26/2018 - 01:39 Permalink

The good thing about using twitter is that it is yet possible to help awaken people to what is really happening. My account has been suspended and I suspect permanently banned for speaking out truth regarding the utter corruption of all western governments, media, critical institutions and nearly every person in any significant position of influence. 

Think back awhile and you will see that there is today many more people questioning what they have been led to believe. Those holding power are very concerned about this awakening and the proof is in how social media is censoring speech. It isn't being censored to protect We The People from bad guys and ideas, it is to protect them.

Go into twitter, facebook and every other available space and do what you can to help your People awaken and to survive the genocide being waged upon them. Don't worry about how corrupt the medium is - just use it.

In reply to by tmosley

NidStyles ejmoosa Wed, 07/25/2018 - 23:59 Permalink

Don’t bleed anything. I am out. Go it? I am not responsible for you, or them. Time to get yourself a new hobby. 

You’re simply impossible to deal with on any rational level. 

The games are more annoying than anything. What have I gotten out of this? Promises? You haven’t even kept the ones you made a fucking year ago. It’s the same run around bullshit with you guys. I do all the fucking networking, and what am I told? That I didn’t do anything? Go fuck yourselves. 

If they want to drop support that’s their choice. I am not dealing with disaster you’re creating here anymore. I don’t even know who the fuck half of you are. 

In reply to by ejmoosa

vato poco Implied Violins Thu, 07/26/2018 - 02:39 Permalink

I hear ya just fine, homes. but that's not how to do a 'can you hear me' test. 

this is: 

* you say, "Trump's a fucking genius who's making his opponents look like the fools they always were"

* you say "Trump's just a deep-state fake persona, and anyone who buys into his simplistic bullshit is a peabrain sheeple'

* you say "only gold is real money, never mind its chickenshit ROR since 1980"

* you say "gold is bullshit, who needs it"

* say anything at all, good or bad, about bitcoin

* say something - anything - less than 1000% complimentary about russia or china, those wonderful wonderful commie states who killed more OF THEIR OWN GUYS than any john bircher could ever dream of, who are beloved the world over by all free-thinking peoples, except those unfortunate enough to live in a country bordered by r/c

*say something - anything - less than 1000% negative about israel. point out the proud arab/islamic traditions of slavemongering, and/or wiping one's ass with one's hand. jeer loudly about the 6-day war

* express any doubt at all about whether those sly sinister joooooz could really be pulling **all** the world's strings the way the smart guys on ZH say they do. wonder out loud why no nation-state ever made a serious run at killing off the rothschilds if they're so bad. kill them, take their money, right? porque no??

* suggest in any way that post-WW2 US foreign policy was not entirely predicated on joooo-driven evil plots of world domination but was instead actually - by world historical standards - shockingly altruistic. like this: "US involvement in Vietnam was fundamentally a good thing: trying to help a sovereign nation being swallowed up by the monstrous commies who killed & imprisoned so many the instant they ultimately came into power". like that

oh, you'll get a response

In reply to by Implied Violins