An independent journalist named Bari Weiss has posted the second batch of “Twitter Files” or disclosures online. With the help of Twitter’s new owner Elon Musk, these “revelations” assert to provide information regarding the platform’s much-discussed “shadow-ban” policy. According to the thread, certain teams sought to limit the visibility and reach of specific right-wing accounts in the US.
Many people have nonetheless noted that the thread doesn’t actually reveal anything novel. In a response to the thread, Kayvon Beykpour, the former head of product at Twitter, claimed that the business never “shadow-banned” anyone and that it merely “de-amplified” comments that were already known to be offensive. In another reply, he also referred to it as “manufactured drama.”
The “shadow-banning” and second set of Twitter Files.
Weiss says in her thread that “teams of Twitter employees establish blacklists, block disfavored tweets from trending, and deliberately limit the visibility of individual accounts or even trending topics,” although many have pointed out that many of these “facts” were already known.
She also cited a 2018 blog post on the subject from Twitter that was written by Kayvon Beykpour, the former Head of Product, and Vijaya Gadde, the Head of Legal Policy and Trust at the time. According to the post, the organisation doesn’t shadow-ban people based on their “political viewpoints or ideology.”
According to Weiss’ thread, these actions were referred to by Twitter executives and staff as “Visibility Filtering,” and numerous right-wing accounts were suspended or had their reach curtailed by these teams. The thread gives the impression that the rules were only fairly applied to those who were deemed to be on the right. Elon Musk also responded to a discussion involving the TwitterFiles, writing, “As @bariweiss plainly shows, the rules were enforced against the right, but not against the left,” suggesting that he agrees with these conclusions.
The “lack” of transparency on what led to someone being labelled as such has always been a contentious topic. We will have to wait and see when this feature actually launches and whether it can dispel claims that Twitter is biassed. Meanwhile, it appears that Musk plans to address this by showing ‘true account status’ to users. He wrote, “Twitter is working on a software update that will show your true account status, so you know clearly if you’ve been shadowbanned, the reason why and how to appeal.”
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