Twitter has acknowledged that it is working to artificially limit the reach of “troll-like” accounts on the platform — “shadowbanning” users in all but name, a practice that the company has repeatedly denied.
In an announcement earlier today, Twitter said they were taking steps to limit “behaviors that distort and detract from the public conversation” by downranking content that exhibits such behaviors from search results and “public conversations.”
In other words, if your behavior is considered “troll-like” by Twitter, it will be harder for other users to find your posts on the platform. The practice of limiting the visibility of content without formally suspending the content owner, notifying them, or deleting the content in question the definition of shadowbanning.
Although Twitter employees have been caught on camera admitting that shadowbanning takes place on the platform, the company continues to publicly deny that it engages in the practice — they have even made such denials in Senate hearings.
Twitter has made little effort to be transparent about the kind of signals it looks for when seeking to identify accounts that, in their words, “distort the conversation.” One of their employees was caught on camera admitting that accounts that post too much about “God, guns, and America” are likely to be classified as “bots,” but there is no acknowledgment of that in Twitter’s announcement.
Twitter only provided a few examples of the kind of signals they look for.
There are many new signals we’re taking in, most of which are not visible externally. Just a few examples include if an account has not confirmed their email address, if the same person signs up for multiple accounts simultaneously, accounts that repeatedly Tweet and mention accounts that don’t follow them, or behavior that might indicate a coordinated attack. We’re also looking at how accounts are connected to those that violate our rules and how they interact with each other.
Buried at the bottom of the announcement post is another admission: Twitter has given itself the authority to restrict content that doesn’t even violate its policies.
These signals will now be considered in how we organize and present content in communal areas like conversation and search. Because this content doesn’t violate our policies, it will remain on Twitter, and will be available if you click on “Show more replies” or choose to see everything in your search setting.
Although considerable political attention has been focused on Facebook over its alleged political censorship, Twitter has a far worse track record. Conservatives and critics of progressivism are still routinely kicked off the platform, often for no other reason that presenting facts and political arguments.