The latest exposé from James O’Keefe’s Project Veritas delved into the world of Silicon Valley darling Twitter, confirming years of Breitbart Tech’s reporting on the company.
In the latest video published by Project Veritas, the investigative journalism team headed by James O’Keefe, the group went undercover in Silicon Valley to find out how Twitter really operates behind the scenes. Project Veritas’ reporting confirmed a number of reports published by Breitbart Tech, such as the prevalence of shadow banning, a method of preventing Twitter user’s content appearing in their follower’s newsfeeds — and thus not spreading normally, Twitter’s use of bots to attack pro-Trump and pro-America accounts, and Twitter’s open bias against conservative users regularly banning their accounts based on the personal politics of Twitter’s account reviewers.
Here are just a few of the reports Breitbart News has published that Veritas has now confirmed,
1: Shadow Banning
In 2016, Breitbart Tech reported from exclusive sources that shadow banning was a real phenomenon that was happening every single day. Breitbart News previous reporting stated:
According to the source, Twitter maintains a ‘whitelist’ of favored Twitter accounts and a ‘blacklist’ of unfavored accounts. Accounts on the whitelist are prioritized 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.
Now, Project Veritas has confirmed Breitbart Tech’s reporting through an undercover conversation with former Twitter software engineer Abhinav Vadrevu who said the following to one of Project Veritas’ undercover reporters,
The idea of a shadow ban is that you ban someone but they don’t know they’ve been banned, because they keep posting but no one sees their content. So they just think that no one is engaging with their content, when in reality, no one is seeing it.
But at the end of the day, no one else interacts… No one else sees what you’re doing. So, all that data is just thrown away. It’s risky though. Because people will figure that shit out and be like… You know, it’s a lot of bad press if, like, people figure out that you’re like shadow banning them. It’s like, unethical in some way. You know? So, I don’t know.
In the past people have been really, really pissed off about that. And even people who haven’t been shadow banned have called it, like, a really terrible thing to do. So, yeah, it’s a risky strategy.
I definitely know Reddit does this, but I don’t know if Twitter does this anymore.
What Vadrevu confirms here is that Twitter has at some point shadow banned users and that the self-proclaimed “front-page of the internet,” Reddit, is still doing so.
2: Liberal Bias
Breitbart Tech has reported for some time that Twitter seems to convey a particular bias against conservatives, regularly banning conservative Twitter accounts while liberal users regularly violate Twitter’s terms of service with impunity. In one case, veteran journalist Bridget Johnson, who has worked for outlets such as USA Today,the Hill, Politico, NPR, and the Jerusalem Post, was banned from Twitter without warning. This is just one of the many examples of conservatives being removed from Twitter’s platform for seemingly no reason. James O’Keefe was himself suspended from Twitter prior to the release of a video in 2016.
Pranay Singh, a direct messaging engineer at Twitter who spoke on camera in Project Veritas’ latest report, revealed that conservative accounts are actually targeted en-masse using machine learning. When a Project Veritas journalist asked Singh how Twitter staff can tell if an account is a bot or a normal person, Singh replied,
You use machine learning. You look for Trump, or America, or any of, like, five thousand, like, Keywords to describe a redneck. And then you look and you, like, parse all the messages, all like the pictures, and then you look for, like, stuff that matches, like, that stuff. And like if it, so you, like, you assign a value to each thing, so like Trump would be, like, .5, a picture of a gun would be like 1.5, and, like, if it comes up… the total comes up above, like, a certain value, then it’s a bot
Just go to a random tweet, and just look at the followers. They’ll all be like, guns, God, ‘Merica, like, and with the American flag and, like, the cross… Like, who says that? Who talks like that? It’s for sure a bot.
You just delete them, but, like, the problem is there are hundreds of thousands of them, so you got to, like, write algorithms, that do it for you.
I would say majority of it are for Republicans, because they’re all from Russia and they wanted Trump to win, so yeah.
It would seem that not only are Twitter employees personally taking it upon themselves to target conservative accounts, but many conservatives are being targeted by Twitter’s own algorithms which could result in accounts being shadow banned or deleted entirely.
3: Prominent Conservatives Are Targeted
For some time now prominent conservative voices have been targeted on Twitter, a number of conservatives recently had their verification badge stripped from their accounts including British conservative activist Tommy Robinson and former Rebel Media journalist Laura Loomer. Many others have claimed to be targeted by the Twitter Trust and Safety Council in charge of monitoring users on the Twitter platform.
This was confirmed by the Twitter’s Policy Manager, Olinda Hassan, who said that the company was working on preventing certain Twitter users from appearing in users timelines:
I’m in Trust and Safety, I do all the policy work, safety policy. I do… I’m in a controversial team. I’m the team everyone says a lot about, yeah.
When asked how the Trust and Safety team prevents certain figures, such as conservative journalist Mike Cernovich, from appearing in user timelines, Hassan stated,
We’re trying to down rank it, but you also need to have control of your timeline… Yeah that’s something we’re working on. Yeah it’s something we’re working on, where we’re trying to get the shitty people to not show up. It’s a product thing we’re working on.
It’s not hard to guess which “shitty people,” Hassan is referring to. Project Veritas’ in-depth reporting has confirmed suspicions and reports that Breitbart Tech has made for some time, the investigative journalism of the Project Veritas team can be watched in full below.