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Elon Musk’s “Twitter Files” shed light on the pervious management’s hidden practices, and revealed that Twitter employees built blacklists and limited the visibility of accounts.
The second instalment of Elon Musk’s “Twitter Files” released on Thursday revealed how the social media giant secretly “blacklisted” conservative tweets and accounts of users without their knowledge. Independent journalist Bari Weiss detailed in a series of tweets on how the company used “shadow banning” to limit the visibility of tweets coming from users.
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The former New York Times and Wall Street Journal writer, who now writes for The Free Press, said the teams at Twitter built blacklists to prevent disfavoured tweets from trending. She claimed that Twitter employees actively limited the visibility of conservative accounts, secretly without informing users and even prevented topics from trending. Weiss shared multiple screenshots of the accounts that were "shadow banned".
As per Weiss’ tweets, the secret group included Head of Legal, Policy, and Trust (Vijaya Gadde), the Global Head of Trust & Safety (Yoel Roth), and the former CEOs Jack Dorsey and Parag Agrawal among others.
Weiss claims that the 'secret group' was beyond the reach of moderators and the standard ticketing process. This is where the biggest, most politically sensitive decisions were made, Weiss claimed citing Twitter employees.
One of the screenshots shared by Weiss showed how Twitter stifled the opinion of Stanford’s Dr Jay Bhattacharya on the COVID-19 lockdown.
She also shared a screenshot of the popular right-wing talk show host Dan Bongino, whose account was slapped with a “Search Blacklist".
Another account of conservative activist Charlie Kirk was set to “Do Not Amplify" by the secret group.
The previous management had denied reports of a shadow ban in the past. However, Weiss said Twitter executives and employees used "Visibility Filtering or VF" to block content, searches, accounts and limit discoverability.
In 2018, Gadde (then Head of Legal Policy and Trust) and Kayvon Beykpour (Head of Product) came forward to state that Twitter does not shadow ban accounts based on political viewpoints or ideology, as per a Livemint report. However, the according to the Twitter Files investigation, these claims seem to be proven false.
Journalist Matt Taibbi in collaboration with Elon Musk published "Twitter Files" investigation last week which documented Twitter's internal communications to disclose links with political actors and blocked stories related to the 2020 US Presidential election. The second instalment of the Twitter files is a continuation of this story.
(Edited by : Jerome Anthony)
First Published: Dec 9, 2022 1:07 PM IST