A new report from left-leaning VICE News revealed that Twitter is hiding the accounts of certain high-profile conservatives from users — which Breitbart News has been covering for years.
A new report published on Wednesday by VICE News details the ongoing censorship of conservatives on social media. This time, the offender is Twitter. Through an objective analysis, VICE News reporter Alex Thompson concluded that Twitter is hiding the accounts of certain high-profile conservatives from its user through a process referred to as “shadowbanning.”
The Republican Party chair Ronna McDaniel, several conservative Republican congressmen, and Donald Trump Jr.’s spokesman no longer appear in the auto-populated drop-down search box on Twitter, VICE News has learned. It’s a shift that diminishes their reach on the platform — and it’s the same one being deployed against prominent racists to limit their visibility. The profiles continue to appear when conducting a full search, but not in the more convenient and visible drop-down bar. (The accounts appear to also populate if you already follow the person.)
Breitbart Tech’s Allum Bokhari reported on this latest form of Twitter shadowbanning Monday.
Some initially speculated that concerns about conservative account “shadow-banning” on Twitter were nothing more than a conspiracy. However, the report also concluded that high-profile liberals aren’t facing the same account restrictions.
Democrats are not being “shadow banned” in the same way, according to a VICE News review. McDaniel’s counterpart, Democratic Party chair Tom Perez, and liberal members of Congress — including Reps. Maxine Waters, Joe Kennedy III, Keith Ellison, and Mark Pocan — all continue to appear in drop-down search results. Not a single member of the 78-person Progressive Caucus faces the same situation in Twitter’s search.
The new report has turned some heads amongst journalists. Jonathan Swan of Axios wrote that he formerly thought that those accusing Twitter of “shadow-banning” were conspiracy theorists.
“Must admit that when some R sources have complained about this to me I mocked them to their face as conspiracy theorists,” Swan wrote. “This Vice article makes me rethink that, and response from Twitter is inadequate.”
Must admit that when some R sources have complained about this to me I mocked them to their face as conspiracy theorists. This Vice article makes me rethink that, and response from Twitter is inadequate. https://t.co/zjAnFV5dzT via @vicenews
— Jonathan Swan (@jonathanvswan) July 25, 2018
A Twitter spokesperson told VICE News that their algorithms do not punish users based on their political preference. “We are aware that some accounts are not automatically populating in our search box and shipping a change to address this,” the spokesperson said. “I’d emphasize that our technology is based on account *behavior* not the content of Tweets.”
Today, Twitter denied shadowbanning exists to Breitbart Tech, stating that the suppression of Congressman Matt Gaetz (R-FL) is an “error.”
This week, Breitbart News covered a report published by Gizmodo in which one of their reporters also acknowledged the shadowbanning issue. “In what appears to be new ranking behavior, Gizmodo has identified several prominent far-right accounts now buried by Twitter’s search feature,” the Gizmodo report read. “As an unintended side effect of demoting divisive figures, many of the dropdown results now show fake accounts.”