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Latest 'Twitter Files' Bomb: Forget Shadow-Banning - Twitter Had Entire Blacklists and We Have Names

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Stay tuned and keep refreshing this page! This story will be updated as the second installment of the “Twitter Files” continues to drop.

The second installment of the “Twitter Files,” revealing Twitter’s “secret blacklists,” was dropped on Thursday night.

Not too long after taking over Twitter, billionaire entrepreneur Elon Musk pledged to release documents showing how, under the company’s previous ownership, Twitter engaged in the suppression of free speech. These documents are referred to as the “Twitter Files.”

The files were shared with two independent journalists, Matt Taibbi and Bari Weiss. The first installment was released by Taibbi via Twitter on Dec. 2 and covered details surrounding Twitter’s suppression of the Hunter Biden laptop scandal.

The Twitter Files: Part Two

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In the first few tweets of “THE TWITTER FILES PART TWO,” Weiss revealed that entire teams of Twitter employees put together their own blacklists and in order to suppress and “shadow ban” the reach of certain accounts.

Some think of shadowbanning as the practice of suppressing a user here or a user there for any number of reasons. But what Twitter was doing was much worse. This was no small-time operation.

There are lists — blacklists — of whole groups of people who Twitter simply decided to crush. And liberal, former NYT reporter Weiss says that politics was driving at least part of the operation.

One such blacklisted user was Standford Professor Dr. Jay Bhattacharya.

Did Twitter engage in free speech suppression?

According to Weiss, Bhattacharya argued that COVID lockdowns were incredibly detrimental to young children, an argument that later turned out to be 100 percent correct.

Because of this, the professor was put on a “Trends Blacklist” which suppressed the reach of his tweets. This essentially prevented Bhattacharya from ever trending.

Additionally, Weiss revealed that conservative talk show host Dan Bongino had been placed on a “Search Blacklist” and conservative activist Charlie Kirk had been placed on a “Do Not Amplify” blacklist.

A picture published by Weiss shows Twitter’s internal reporting system. Employees had a number of censorship labels they could press for each account. Bhattacharya’s account received the labels “Recent Abuse Strike” and “Trends Blacklist.”

Bongino’s account received the labels of “NSFW View,” “Strike Count,” “Notifications Spike” and “Search Blacklist.”

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This all flies in the face of previous comments made by top Twitter executives denying that any such blacklistings, such as shadow banning, had ever taken place.

According to Weiss, internally at Twitter, the practice of shadow banning (reducing users’ visibility unknowingly) was known as “Visibility Filtering.”

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

“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,” another employee told the journalists.

This quote was later confirmed by additional employees, per Weiss.

There was an entire team a Twitter designated to deciding whether or not accounts should be hit with “Visibility Filtering.”

This team was called the “Strategic Response Team – Global Escalation Team, or SRT-GET,” Weiss reported.

Each day, the team managed roughly 200 of these “Visibility Filtering” cases.

This group simply managed ticketed requests for profiles that may be violating Twitter’s policies.

Above the SRT-GET on the command chain existed another “secret group” that had the authority to suppress accounts that may not have violated any specific Twitter policy, Weiss reported.

Known as the “Site Integrity Policy, Policy Escalation Support,” or “SIP-PES,” this group included many high-profile controversial figures at Twitter, including former Head of Legal, Policy, and Trust Vijaya Gadde, former Global Head of Trust and Safety Yoel Roth and a number of former CEOs, including both Jack Dorsey and Parag Agrawal.

These were the people responsible for banning the “Libs of TikTok” account.

“This is where the biggest, most politically sensitive decisions got made. ‘Think high follower account, controversial,’ another Twitter employee told us. For these ‘there would be no ticket or anything,’” Weiss wrote.

Upon being suspended, Chaya Raichik, the woman behind the “Libs of TikTok” account, was told that she had violated Twitter’s “hateful conduct” policy, according to Weiss.

As it turns out, an internal memo shared by Weiss reveals that Twitter was aware that Riachik had violated no such policy.

“The committee justified her suspensions internally by claiming her posts encouraged online harassment of ‘hospitals and medical providers’ by insinuating ‘that gender-affirming healthcare is equivalent to child abuse or grooming,’” Weiss wrote.

“Compare this to what happened when Raichik herself was doxxed on November 21, 2022. A photo of her home with her address was posted in a tweet that has garnered more than 10,000 likes.”

The tweet that reportedly “doxxed” Raichik is still up on Twitter, Weiss reported.

It appears that employees would often bend the rules in order to suppress accounts they saw as problematic.

Internal messages showed that such employees explored how they could use certain “technicalities” in order to restrict accounts.

“A lot of times, SI has used technicality spam enforcements as a way to solve a problem created by Safety under-enforcing their policies,” Roth wrote in an internal slack message.

Roth rationalized the use of such tactics by arguing that “misinformation directly causes harm.”

Therefore, the restriction of speech that Twitter employees subjectively determined to be “misinformation” was seen as protecting users from harm.

Weiss finished off the second installment of the “Twitter Files” with a promise of much more to come in the near future.

“We’re just getting started on our reporting. Documents cannot tell the whole story here. A big thank you to everyone who has spoken to us so far,” Weiss wrote.

Shortly thereafter, Musk announced Twitter would soon be rolling out a software update allowing users to see what their current account visibility is.

“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,” Musk tweeted.

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Michael wrote for a number of entertainment news outlets before joining The Western Journal in 2020 as a staff reporter. He now manages the writing and reporting teams, overseeing the production of commentary, news and original reporting content.
Michael Austin graduated from Iowa State University in 2019. During his time in college, Michael volunteered as a social media influencer for both PragerU and Live Action. After graduation, he went on to work as a freelance journalist for various entertainment news sites before joining The Western Journal in 2020 as a staff reporter.

Since then, Michael has been promoted to the role of Manager of Writing and Reporting. His responsibilities now include managing and directing the production of commentary, news and original reporting content.
Birthplace
Ames, Iowa
Nationality
American
Education
Iowa State University
Topics of Expertise
Culture, Faith, Politics, Education, Entertainment




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