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Twitter Files: Secret Blacklists and Shadow-banning of Conservative and Independent Users

While most intelligent observers already knew this unethical and illegal (yes, it is illegal when Twitter is coordinating its censorship operation with government agencies, which it was) practice was taking place at Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and other Big Tech gate-keeping websites, this latest revelation is hugely important to the conversation because it proves who was doing it, and how. 

Based on this evidence, it can now be said that the company’s disgraced former CEO Jack Dorsey and his high-powered head of censorship, lawyer Vijaya Gadde, both lied to the public when asked directly on repeated occasions whether their firm was engaged in political censorship, blacklists and shadow-banning.

In the case of the seemingly aloof Dorsey, this latest revelation shows that he has, in fact, lied under oath to the US Congress in 2018, a federal penalty of perjury which would normally carry a prison sentence of up to five years.

Beyond that, it is now a proven fact that Twitter engaged in direct election interference on multiple occasions.

As it turns out, their sordid operation was much worse than anyone thought…

Victor Nava and Bruce Golding from the New York Post report…

The second installment of Elon Musk’s “Twitter Files” dropped Thursday night and reveals how the social media giant was secretly “blacklisting” conservative tweets and users.

Independent journalist Bari Weiss detailed in a series of posts how Twitter used so-called “shadow banning” to limit the visibility of tweets coming from far-right users.

Conservative talk show host Dan Bongino, Stanford University’s anti-COVID lockdown advocate Dr. Jay Bhattacharya and right-wing activist Charlie Kirk were among the users targeted for suppression by Twitter, according to Weiss.

The former New York Times and Wall Street Journal writer said the blacklists were built “in secret” and “without informing users.”

“A new [Twitter Files] investigation reveals that teams of Twitter employees build blacklists, prevent disfavored tweets from trending, and actively limit the visibility of entire accounts or even trending topics — all in secret, without informing users,” Weiss wrote in a tweet Thursday.

She notes that the company strayed from its original mission of giving “everyone the power to create and share ideas and information instantly, without barriers” by developing the methods to suppress specific individuals.

Bhattacharya’s account, for example, was flagged as being on a “trends blacklist,” according to Weiss, who shared an image of his account from Twitter’s point of view with the yellow tag indicating the restriction.

“Take, for example, Stanford’s Dr. Jay Bhattacharya who argued that Covid lockdowns would harm children. Twitter secretly placed him on a ‘Trends Blacklist,’ which prevented his tweets from trending,” Weiss wrote.

An image of Bongino’s account showed a similar yellow notice that read “Search Blacklist.”

“Or consider the popular right-wing talk show host, Dan Bongino who at one point was slapped with a ‘Search Blacklist,’” Weiss wrote.

Weiss then shared an image of Kirk’s account with a “Do Not Amplify” message.

”Twitter set the account of conservative activist Charlie Kirk to ‘Do Not Amplify,’” the independent journalist tweeted.

Twitter has vehemently denied that it “shadow bans” users.

Weiss notes that top Twitter executives, including former head of legal policy and trust Vijaya Gadde and head of product Kayvon Beykpour, have denied in the past that the company “shadow bans” users.

“We do not shadow ban,” Gadde and Beykpour said in 2018, per Weiss. “And we certainly don’t shadow ban based on political viewpoints or ideology.”

“People are asking us if we shadow ban. We don’t. Read more to get all the facts,” the company also said in a 2018 tweet.

That same year, Twitter co-founder and former CEO Jack Dorsey also claimed that the company didn’t restrict accounts with certain “political viewpoints.”

“We don’t shadow ban, and we certainly don’t shadow ban based on political viewpoints,” Dorsey wrote in a tweet.

“We do rank tweets by default to make Twitter more immediately relevant (which can be flipped off). More on ranking signals,” he added, linking to a company blog post co-authored by Gadde, known as the company’s “censorship chief.”

Weiss reports that the practice of suppressing conservative voices is known internally as “Visibility Filtering” or “VF.”

“Think about visibility filtering as being a way for us to suppress what people see to different levels. It’s a very powerful tool,” a senior Twitter employee told Weiss.

“Visibility Filtering” allows the company to “block searches of individual users; to limit the scope of a particular tweet’s discoverability; to block select users’ posts from ever appearing on the ‘trending’ page; and from inclusion in hashtag searches,” according to Weiss.

“We control visibility quite a bit. And we control the amplification of your content quite a bit. And normal people do not know how much we do,” a Twitter engineer told Weiss.

Weiss found that the group responsible for deciding which accounts to blacklist was known as the Strategic Response Team – Global Escalation Team, or SRT-GET.

“It often handled up to 200 ‘cases’ a day,” according to Weiss.

But beyond SRT-GET, the secretive Site Integrity Policy, Policy Escalation Support team, or SIP-PES, was responsible for the most “politically sensitive decisions.”

“This secret group included Head of Legal, Policy, and Trust (Vijaya Gadde), the Global Head of Trust & Safety (Yoel Roth), subsequent CEOs Jack Dorsey and Parag Agrawal, and others,” according to Weiss.

“This is where the biggest, most politically sensitive decisions got made,” she added.

The popular Libs of TikTok Twitter account is one conservative profile that Weiss says fell under the purview of the SIP-PES team…

Continue this report at the New York Post

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