Twitter’s algorithms for political censorship target language and images — such as “America” and the American flag — associated with Breitbart News’s audience, said Project Veritas President James O’Keefe on Monday.
O’Keefe’s remarks on Twitter came during a SiriusXM Breitbart News Tonight interview with Breitbart News’s Senior Editors-at-Large Rebecca Mansour and Joel Pollak.
Censorial algorithms at Twitter, said O’Keefe, associate certain terms and sentiments with automated behaviors in an ostensible effort to silence bots across the platform: “[Twitter has] an algorithm that finds correlative words associated with people like the Breitbart audience. So if you post about guns, if you like the American flag, if you use the word ‘America,’ if you are a self-described ‘redneck,’ they actually target these people. These are not racists, or white supremacists, or Nazis — these are just moderate conservative ideas.”
Following 2016’s presidential election, Twitter deployed a political censorship campaign ostensibly dedicated to combating “fake news” it implied was responsible for the election of Donald Trump to the presidency.
Twitter surveils and monetizes — through automated probing and employee monitoring — information within direct messages sent by its users across its platform, said O’Keefe: “They’re sharing your girlfriends’ [and] wives’ private pictures you give, you know, people send direct messages on Twitter thinking they’re private, it’s actually not. They can store it in a database, and these engineers are bragging about selling it to advertisers, looking at them, sharing them with your exes and [others].”
O’Keefe commented on Twitter’s use of shadow banning and assorted measures to minimize targeted users’ engagement across its platform:
They have hundreds of engineers that mine through your private part pictures … That shadow banning video we released Thursday was probably one of the greatest censorship stories we’ve ever seen. This is the digital town square, and if they’re able to prevent you from sharing your information with your followers and friends, then how are you going to communicate your ideas? They’re trying to “ban a way of talking,” they say.
“This is probably the biggest invasion of privacy,” surmised O’Keefe.
In response to Project Veritas’s investigation, a Twitter spokesperson described the company as “enforcing [its] rules without bias and empowering every voice on our platform.” The statement also derided Project Veritas’s investigation as deploying “deceptive and underhanded tactics.”
Read Twitter’s statement below:
The individual depicted in this video was speaking in a personal capacity and does not represent or speak for Twitter. Twitter only responds to valid legal requests, and does not share any user information with law enforcement without such a request.
We deplore the deceptive and underhanded tactics by which this footage was obtained and selectively edited to fit a pre-determined narrative. Twitter is committed to enforcing our rules without bias and empowering every voice on our platform, in accordance with the Twitter Rules.
While denying its use of shadow banning, Twitter acknowledges that is “limit[s] tweet visibility” on its platform: “Twitter does not shadow ban accounts. We do take actions to downrank accounts that are abusive, and mark them accordingly so people can still to click through and see these Tweets if they so choose. Limiting tweet visibility depends on a number of signals about the nature of the interaction and the quality of the content.”
Twitter’s political culture, concluded O’Keefe, resembled a “Soviet” mentality opposed to free speech and expression:
I think the problem is that people in Silicon Valley sort of pat themselves on the back about this. I think there’s no shaming these people. They want the censor. They don’t believe in the same things that you and I believe in. They don’t believe in a free exchange of ideas. They have a sort of Soviet methodology; if it isn’t consistent with what the party wants, if it isn’t consistent with this sort of post-modern ideological agenda of doublespeak, then it doesn’t belong. It’s almost like you can’t shame them. It’s very hard to shame them.
Twitter’s user base should be made aware of the depravity of Twitter employees with access to the company’s users’ data, said O’Keefe: “These people are perverted, and they’re twisted, and they’re deranged, and they’re saying so on these video tapes.”
Follow Robert Kraychik on Twitter @rkraychik.