Twitter said that some of its employees admitting to censoring conservative views across the platform in a series of undercover videos were talking “in a personal capacity.”
One company spokesperson said those workers “do not represent or speak” for the company.
The string of undercover videos, produced by Project Veritas, features eight employees of the micro-blogging website explaining the concept of “shadow banning”.
Shadow banning is a highly effective censorship tool which suppresses unwanted opinions without targeted users even noticing it. Twitter is reportedly working on improving AI algorithms to apply the banning without human assistance.
The Twitter employees acknowledged that the final goal of “shadow banning” is to silence political views that are not on Twitter’s liking.
One strategy is to shadow ban, so you have ultimate control,
former software engineer for Twitter Abhinov Vadrevu told Project Veritas.
How Shadow-Banning Works
The new concept means that somebody is banned from the site, but they don’t know they’ve been banned since they can still see their tweets. However, other users are no longer able to see the tweets coming from a banned user. So, the only hint that you might have been shadow-banned is the lack of peer engagement with recent content.
Twitter dismissed the validity of such comments, dismissing shadow banning accusations altogether. It admitted that it down-ranks some “abusive” accounts and flags them for people to be wary of inappropriate content.
The Twitter spokesperson acknowledged that flagged tweets become “less visible” in queries, timelines, and replies. The process is called “limiting tweet visibility.”
In the undercover videos, Twitter’s direct messaging engineer Pranay Singh explained how shadow ban algorithms could work in the future. He noted that a “redneck” is usually described through 5,000 keywords.
So, the system could sift through a user’s messages and photos looking for stuff that matches some of those keywords, and automatically ban him. Singh admitted that the majority of shadow banning targets are Republicans.
Image Source: Flickr
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