Rumours that Twitter has begun ‘shadowbanning’ politically inconvenient users have been confirmed by a source inside the company, who spoke exclusively to Breitbart Tech. His claim was corroborated by a senior editor at a major publisher.
According to the source, Twitter maintains a ‘whitelist’ of favoured Twitter accounts and a ‘blacklist’ of unfavoured accounts. Accounts on the whitelist are prioritised in search results, even if they’re not the most popular among users. Meanwhile, accounts on the blacklist have their posts hidden from both search results and other users’ timelines.
Our source was backed up by a senior editor at a major digital publisher, who told Breitbart that Twitter told him it deliberately whitelists and blacklists users. He added that he was afraid of the site’s power, noting that his tweets could disappear from users’ timelines if he got on the wrong side of the company.
Shadowbanning, sometimes known as “Stealth Banning” or “Hell Banning,” is commonly used by online community managers to block content posted by spammers. Instead of banning a user directly (which would alert the spammer to their status, prompting them to create a new account), their content is merely hidden from public view.
For site owners, the ideal shadowban is when a user never realizes he’s been shadowbanned.
However, Twitter isn’t merely targeting spammers. For weeks, users have been reporting that tweets from populist conservatives, members of the alternative right, cultural libertarians, and other anti-PC dissidents have disappeared from their timelines.
Among the users complaining of shadowbans are sci-fi author and alt-right figurehead Vox Day, geek culture blogger “Daddy Warpig,” and the popular pro-Trump account Ricky Vaughn. League of Gamers founder and former World of Warcraft team lead Mark Kern, as well as adult actress and anti-censorship activist Mercedes Carrera, have also reported that their tweets are not appearing on the timelines of their followers.
The pattern of shadowban reports, which skews towards the alt-right, the populist right, and cultural libertarians, follows close on the heels of Twitter’s establishment of a “Trust and Safety Council” packed with left-wing advocacy groups, as well as Islamic research centre the Wahid Institute.
For close to a year now, Breitbart has covered Twitter’s march towards political censorship. In May 2015 Allum Bokhari reported that the site had begun to experiment with shadowbans, ostensibly to protect users from abuse. Then, as now, it was suspected that “protecting users from abuse” was an excuse to implement a system that would later be used for political censorship.
With shadowbans now confirmed by an inside source, there is little room for doubt that the platform is intent on silencing conservatives. Furthermore, it has demonstrated a complete lack of regard for transparency, concealing its shadowbanning system from users and hiding its political bias behind a veneer of opposition to online abuse. (In reality, the site turns a blind eye to abuse from left-wingers.)
Users in search of a transparent, politically unbiased platform will soon have to find — or build — an alternative.