Twitter manipulates the visibility of its users based on who has chosen to block or mute them, the company admitted in a Thursday blog post — raising further questions about ideological bias in how the tech giant chooses which accounts set the standard for “conversational health.”
Twitter has denied the use of shadowbanning, arguing over semantics while admitting it does hide users’ posts via algorithmic parameters that the company continues to defend with virtually zero transparency.
Twitter executives Kayvon Beykpour and Vijaya Gadde wrote “bad-faith actors” on its platform will “be ranked lower.” The company’s determination of “bad-faith actors” is partly determined by the mutings and blockings of other accounts.
“Some of the signals we use to determine bad-faith actors,” they write, include “how other accounts interact with you (e.g. who mutes you, who follows you, who retweets you, who blocks you, etc).”
Twitter does not specify which accounts’ — or types of accounts’ — blockings and mutings it takes into consideration to determine “bad-faith actors.”
As explained by Breitbart senior technology correspondent Allum Bokhari, “Prominent left-wing activists have hair-trigger definitions of ‘abuse,’ previously describing mild criticism like ‘you suck’ and ‘you’re a liar’ as a form of ‘cyberviolence.’”
Twitter has made no attempts at transparency to allow its broad user base to evaluate whether the accounts whose blocks set the standard for shadowbans are operating under this fallacious paradigm.
Beykpour and Gadde describe their goal as facilitating “healthy conversation” on Twitter, including the marginalization of “trolls” they accuse of “distort[ing] and detract[ing] from the public conversation.”
Twitter denies any left-wing bias in its ranking methodologies: “We certainly don’t shadow ban based on political viewpoints or ideology.”
Twitter exists to serve the public conversation, enabling important discussions around the world to occur. Favoring one specific ideology or belief goes against everything we stand for. https://t.co/lioupj3aUF
— Vijaya Gadde (@vijaya) July 27, 2018
Twitter CEO and co-founder Jack Dorsey also denied political or partisan considerations shaping the company’s internal methodologies and algorithms.
We want a vibrant and healthy public conversation inclusive of all perspectives, and one that’s immediately relevant and valuable. We’re always listening to the conversation around this, and we commit to participating more fully in it. It’s important to us we get this right.
— jack (@jack) July 27, 2018
Twitter claims its aforementioned processes are yielding success, pointing to its reception of “fewer abuse reports and spam reports” as evidence. It offers no analysis of bad-faith operators who submit frivolous abuse and spam reports.
Follow Robert Kraychik on Twitter.