Twitter CEO Elon Musk has released part two of the ‘Twitter Files’ titled ‘Twitter’s Secret Blacklists”. The details have been released in a Twitter thread by journalist Bari Weiss. Earlier, part one was also released in a Twitter thread by journalist and author Matt Taibi.
The thread claims 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.
“Twitter once had a mission “to give everyone the power to create and share ideas and information instantly, without barriers.” Along the way, barriers nevertheless were erected,” Weiss mentioned.
She gave an example of Stanford’s Dr. Jay Bhattacharya who was of the view that Covid-19 induced lockdowns would be harmful to children. Weiss said that Twitter put Bhattacharya on the ‘Trends Blacklist’ which prevented his tweets from trending. She went on to add screengrabs of profiles of a right-wing talk show host and conservative activist stating how Twitter ‘slapped’ them with the ‘Search Blacklist’ and ‘Do Not Amplify’ setting respectively.
Weiss added that former Twitter legal head Vijaya Gadde and Product Head Kayvon Beykpour denied the fact of ‘Shadow Banning’ in 2018. “They added: ‘And we certainly don’t shadow ban based on political viewpoints or ideology,” Weiss mentioned them as saying. She added that Twitter executives called this a ‘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,’ one senior Twitter employee told us,” she tweeted. She wrote that the group which was deciding whether to limit the reach of certain users was the Strategic Response Team – Global Escalation Team, or SRT-GET. “It often handled up to 200 “cases” a day,” she said.
“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,” Weiss told.
Bari goes on to elaborate on how Chaya Raichik’s Twitter account was suspended on six occasions in 2022 under the ‘hateful conduct’ policy of the social media giant, but an internal memo of the company shows that her account ‘has not directly engaged in behavior violative of the Hateful Conduct policy’.
She concluded the thread hinting towards another installment of the ‘Twitter Files’ which could come out from Matt Taibbi’s handle, who published part one.Following the release of the files, Elon Musk tweeted that the micro-blogging platform is working on a software update that will show users’ true account status, so they clearly know if they have been shadowbanned, the reason why, and how to appeal.
“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.”