UKIP Leader, Elected Politicians ‘Shadow Banned’ on Twitter

Brexit
OLI SCARFF/AFP/Getty Images
LIAM DEACON

UKIP has accused Twitter of “shadow banning” Gerard Batten, the party’s leader and the elected representative for London in the European Parliament.

The party’s London Assembly Members Peter Whittle and David Kurten have also been “shadow banned”, UKIP said in a statement, as well as their Head of Communications Kris Hicks, who has been in the job for just a week.

In recent days, Twitter has started making it harder to view the tweets and interactions from many prominent conservative users of the website, prompting U.S. President Donald J Trump to intervene.

The accounts have allegedly had their messages hidden from followers’ feeds, only appearing when their pages are viewed directly, and some users were removed from automatic search results for a short period.

Following criticism, Twitter has insisted the changes to searches have been reversed and argued the actions do not amount to “shadow banning” as that would require everyone but the poster to be barred from viewing content.

However, the changes are widely thought to have severely limited many conservatives’ reach on the platform, and undercover reports have previously indicated Twitter staff are targeting those on the political right.

UKIP Chairman Tony McIntyre commented: “It’s absolutely outrageous that the leader of a political party is being censored on the platform.

“Years ago companies would hide behind the excuse of human error. Now it’s supposedly down to algorithms with political biases, which block anything to the right of Karl Marx.

“Twitter is stifling the open discourse necessary for maintaining a free society. UKIP demands that Twitter reverse this censorship immediately in the name of free and open online communication.”

Mr Batten added: “I’ve been shadow banned on Twitter, along with my Press Officer, and the two UKIP London Assembly Members… The story was given to the papers but they are not interested in publishing it. The alternative media is been restricted.”

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