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Twitter CEO To Testify 'Shadowbanning Conservatives' GOP Lawmakers Demand Action

Jack Dorsey to appear before the House Energy & Commerce committee

 on 25th August 2018 @ 4.00pm
jack dorsey to appear before the house energy   commerce committee © press
Jack Dorsey to appear before the House Energy & Commerce committee

Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey has been summoned to appear before the House Energy & Commerce committee following demands from GOP lawmakers in response to reports of "shadowbanning" conservatives on the platform.

Earlier this month, the US House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy demanded that the social media giant's chief executive testifies in from of the House committee.

After months of rumors that Twitter was "shadowbanning" conservative accounts were finally confirmed during investigations by VICE and other publications recently.

The practice is shadowbanning effectively blocks other users from viewing the posts from a shadowbanned account, without the banned account being notified or blocked from posting altogether, meaning they often don't realize there's an issue.

"When decisions about data and content are made using opaque processes, the American people are right to raise concerns. This committee intends to ask tough questions about how Twitter monitors and polices content, and we look forward to Mr. Dorsey being forthright and transparent regarding the complex processes behind the company’s algorithms and content judgment calls," the statement reads.

twitter ceo to testify  shadowbanning conservatives  gop lawmakers demand action © press

According to ZH: This action follows Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) complaint filed with the Federal Election Commission (FEC) against Twitter after he discovered that his account was being 'shadowbanned' - the practice of excluding or reducing the visibility of one's tweets from normal circulation on the platform.

In late July, Twitter issued a strange explanation to "set the record straight," in response to growing outrage over the practice of "shadow banning" conservatives, as confirmed in an article from the liberal publication VICE and promptly tweeted about by President Trump - where Twitter explicitly stated that they do not engage in the practice - except then they describe how they do exactly that.

"People are asking us if we shadow ban. We do not. But let’s start with, “what is shadow banning?”

The best definition we found is this: deliberately making someone’s content undiscoverable to everyone except the person who posted it, unbeknownst to the original poster." -Twitter

Then, Twitter reiterates they don't shadow ban - with the caveat in parentheses that you may need to go directly to the timeline of some users in order to see their tweets.

Meanwhile, former "Direct Messaging Engineer" Pranay Singh (who is now a "Site Reliability Engineer") revealed one of the ways they do it:

“Yeah you look for Trump, or America, and you have like five thousand keywords to describe a redneck. Then you look and parse all the messages, all the pictures, and then you look for stuff that matches that stuff.” -Pranay Singh

When asked if the majority of the algorithms are targeted against conservative or liberal users of Twitter, Singh said, “I would say majority of it are for Republicans.”

house majority leader kevin mccarthy s letter to greg walden © press
House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy's letter to Greg Walden

So if Twitter is full of smug, angry, #resisting millennials - who have shown zero compunction about punishing conservatives by applying vastly disproportionate standards to liberals - how, exactly, is Jack going to ensure this doesn't happen? Some of these people genuinely believe they're in a war right now.

In the full Project Veritas video from the Twitter sting, Twitter Content Review Agent Mo Nora explains that Twitter doesn't have an official written policy that targets conservative speech, but rather they were following "unwritten rules from the top":

“A lot of unwritten rules, and being that we’re in San Francisco, we’re in California, very liberal, a very blue state. You had to be… I mean as a company you can’t really say it because it would make you look bad, but behind closed doors are lots of rules.”

“There was, I would say… Twitter was probably about 90% Anti-Trump, maybe 99% Anti-Trump.”

The full 15-minute video of O'Keefe's Twitter sting can be seen below:

"We do not shadow ban. You are always able to see the tweets from accounts you follow (although you may have to do more work to find them, like go directly to their profile). And we certainly don’t shadow ban based on political viewpoints or ideology." -Twitter

In other words, Twitter says they don't shadow ban - it's just that tweets from people you follow may never appear unless you click directly into their timeline.

In January, an undercover video from Project Veritas captured several current and former Twitter employees bragging about siliencing conservatives on the platform.

"[T]hey just think that no one is engaging with their content, when in reality, no one is seeing it" - admitted former software engineer Abhinav Vadrevu.

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