Twitter admitted on Monday to “removing” a post from Federalist co-founder Sean Davis, but the journalist claims the platform actually shadowbanned, or hid the content from other users.
The post, about Lisa Page’s congressional testimony, was shown as an active post when Davis looked at it on his account, but the URL actually displayed the same way as a deleted tweet for other users — essentially making it invisible to the public.
“Is @Twitter experimenting with shadow bans by deleting tweets so others can’t see them, but keeping them visible to you while you’re logged in? I had to re-publish my original Lisa Page transcript tweet because it was disappeared to everyone but me,” complained Davis on Twitter last Tuesday.
Is @Twitter experimenting with shadow bans by deleting tweets so others can't see them, but keeping them visible to you while you're logged in? I had to re-publish my original Lisa Page transcript tweet because it was disappeared to everyone but me. pic.twitter.com/RugtpK2MYn
— Sean Davis (@seanmdav) March 12, 2019
Then, on Monday, Davis published a follow-up post containing an email Twitter had sent to him which he says admits that the post had been shadowbanned.
“Our priority is to keep people safe on Twitter. As part of that work, we err on the side of protecting people and sometimes mistakenly remove content that doesn’t break our rules,” claimed Twitter. “When those mistakes happen, we work quickly to fix them. We have corrected the issue.”
Titter claimed in its e-mail to me that it "mistakenly remove[d]" a completely anodyne tweet about public congressional testimony, but didn't explain why it left the tweet–and metrics showing no engagement–visible to me when logged in. Is conning users a bug, or a feature? pic.twitter.com/bqtc8Klcam
— Sean Davis (@seanmdav) March 18, 2019
Davis then questioned why Twitter would remove the post, but make it appear as though it had not been removed when Davis himself looked at the tweet.
“Twitter confirmed to me today via e-mail that it did shadowban one of my tweets about Lisa Page’s congressional testimony in order to ‘keep people safe[.]’ Twitter deliberately deleted the tweet/URL, yet kept it visible for me when I was logged in so I’d think it was still up,” Davis explained. “Titter [sic] claimed in its e-mail to me that it ‘mistakenly remove[d]’ a completely anodyne tweet about public congressional testimony, but didn’t explain why it left the tweet–and metrics showing no engagement–visible to me when logged in. Is conning users a bug, or a feature?”
“Twitter gave me no notice or explanation when it shadowbanned one of my Tweets about Russian interference in our elections,” he continued. “But what’s worse is how Twitter apparently gives its users the fraudulent impression that their tweets, which Twitter secretly bans, are still public.”
Twitter has previously denied shadowbanning users, including Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL), and last year, the Big Tech company declared, “We do not shadow ban. You are always able to see the tweets from accounts you follow (although you may have to do more work to find them, like go directly to their profile). And we certainly don’t shadow ban based on political viewpoints or ideology.”
“Twitter ‘SHADOW BANNING’ prominent Republicans. Not good. We will look into this discriminatory and illegal practice at once! Many complaints,” Trump tweeted.
In January 2018, Project Veritas filmed Twitter direct messaging engineer Pranay Singh admitting to mass-banning accounts which express interest in God, guns, and America.
“Just go to a random [Trump] tweet and just look at the followers. They’ll all be like, guns, God, ‘Merica, and with the American flag and the cross,” declared Singh. “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’ve got to, like, write algorithms that do it for you,” he expressed.