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Shadowbans and the Twitterdämmerung of Free Expression


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Shadowbans and the Twitterdämmerung of Free Expression

By Boris Zelkin| January 13, 2018

Twitter’s mission statement is to: “Give everyone the power to create and share ideas and information instantly, without barriers.” On Thursday, Project Veritas released a video showing Twitter engineers boasting their use of “shadowbanning” to curb conservative speech.

No amount of “deceptive editing” accusations or “out of context” arguments can contradict the tale of the tape. The engineer lays out, in unedited detail, the process of shadowbanning—which consists of Twitter allowing a post to exist but limiting its reach by hiding it from view, thus ensuring that no engagement occurs. The poster of the tweet will merely think that no one has responded, one way or the other, and that person’s followers—who have actively chosen to read his tweets—will never know the tweet existed.

Shadowbanning lets Twitter have it both ways: to play the paragon of free speech, claiming it doesn’t actually remove speech, while simultaneously allowing its engineers and their partisan algorithms to hide from view any posts deemed unsavory by their lights. Essentially, Twitter is disappearing speech the company deems unfit. What’s more, Twitter employees happily apply salve to their conscience by noting this is a means of looking for bots—i.e., nonhuman accounts—which they seem to conflate with “redneck” thought.      :snip: 

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