Mind Matters Natural and Artificial Intelligence News and Analysis
Icon group as speech bubble cloud
Photo licensed via Adobe Stock

Update: Musk’s Second Salvo: Twitter Did Secretly Censor Users

Despite execs claiming that it didn’t. Elon Musk gave journalist Bari Weiss the story
arroba Email

Readers may recall that Elon Musk, having bought Twitter, started opening some windows. It came out that the Hunter Biden laptop story was suppressed for reasons that would never have passed muster with a story about any other political figure. There is good reason to believe that Twitter had a cozy relationship with the FBI in the matter.

Now, it turns out that, contrary to denials by top execs, there were indeed secret blacklists at Twitter:

Twitter kept a ‘secret blacklist’ of topics and accounts to prevent them from trending, according to data obtained by journalist Bari Weiss – with conservative commentators deliberately downplayed in what one called ‘Soviet-style bulls***’,’ while another said he was treated ‘with more censorship than Hamas’.

Specialist teams were put to work dealing with 200 cases a day.

Conservative commentators, including Dan Bongino and Charlie Kirk, were deliberately put on a ‘search blacklist’ in Bongino’s case or tabbed ‘do not amplify,’ in the case of Kirk.

Harriet Alexander, “Fury at Twitter’s ‘secret blacklist’ and ‘visibility filtering’ as new tranche of files reveal conservatives were marked ‘do not amplify’ and COVID lockdown skeptics ‘shadow banned’” at Daily Mail (December 8, 2022)

One notable incident involved suppressing the harm done to kids by school lockdowns:

Among those targeted was Stanford professor Dr. Jay Bhattacharya, who wrote about how COVID lockdowns would harm children. He and others have been vindicated in flagging those worries, but Twitter secretly placed him on a “Trends Blacklist” to prevent his tweets from trending. It’s a telling list because it reflects an acknowledgment that such tweets would trend with users if the company didn’t suppress them.
Jonathan Turley, “Twitter — and Democrats — lied, lied and lied again about censorship” at New York Post (December 9, 2022)

Perhaps the most significant aspect of the story is that Twitter execs consistently maintained that they did not do such things:

“Twitter denied that it does such things,” Weiss wrote. “In 2018, Twitter’s Vijaya Gadde (then Head of Legal Policy and Trust) and Kayvon Beykpour (Head of Product) said: ‘We do not shadow ban.’ They added: ‘And we certainly don’t shadow ban based on political viewpoints or ideology.’
Joseph A. Wulfsohn, “Elon Musk’s second installment of ‘Twitter Files’ reveals ‘secret blacklists,’ Bari Weiss reports” at Fox News (December 8, 2022)

But here’s what was said inhouse:

“‘Think about visibility filtering [shadow banning] as being a way for us to suppress what people see to different levels. It’s a very powerful tool,’ one senior Twitter employee told us,” Weiss tweeted. “‘VF’ refers to Twitter’s control over user visibility. It used VF 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. All without users’ knowledge.”
Joseph A. Wulfsohn, “Elon Musk’s second installment of ‘Twitter Files’ reveals ‘secret blacklists,’ Bari Weiss reports” at Fox News (December 8, 2022)

Here are more instances of Twitter execs claiming that they did not engage in this type of censorship. Bari Weiss’s evidence, supplied by Musk, is given in a series of tweets:

Musk, who seems to mean what he says about transparency, is following up with another salvo, this time about Twitter’s notorious child porn problem:

This just in from The Babylon Bee: “Jack Dorsey defiantly states that he has never heard of Twitter.

Twitter may have been worth the $44 billion Musk paid after all…

We’ll give the last word to the editors of the New York Post, whose story on the laptop was suppressed:

The “crisis of disinformation” you go on and on about, wondering why people don’t trust the “experts” anymore? This is why. Our “betters” in tech, media, and government have gaslighted us so often, we can never believe a word they say again.
Post Editorial Board, “Twitter’s secret shadow bans are why the public has turned against ‘experts’” at New York Post (December 9, 2022)

You may also wish to read: Elon Musk throws a bomb at media no one should trust. Musk’s release of the “Twitter files” on the suppression of the Hunter Biden laptop story has provoked media outrage and attempts to deflect the issues. The question that looms is whether social media should have that kind of cozy relationship with the FBI and Musk thinks it shouldn’t.

Denyse O'Leary

Denyse O'Leary is a freelance journalist based in Victoria, Canada. Specializing in faith and science issues, she has published two books on the topic: Faith@Science and By Design or by Chance? She has written for publications such as The Toronto Star, The Globe & Mail, and Canadian Living. She is co-author, with neuroscientist Mario Beauregard, of The Spiritual Brain: A Neuroscientist's Case for the Existence of the Soul. She received her degree in honors English language and literature.

Update: Musk’s Second Salvo: Twitter Did Secretly Censor Users