Twitter has “search blacklist” and “trends blacklist” tags on accounts, according to a purported image of an internal tool used by employees to moderate users, released via the blockbuster hack of prominent individuals yesterday.
Hackers gained access to a Twitter employee’s account yesterday, reportedly bribing the employee $2,000 for his account according to a report by Vice. The employee account was then used to gain posting access to the accounts of a number of prominent individuals, including Barack Obama, Joe Biden, Michael Bloomberg, Elon Musk, Kanye West, and others. The accounts were then used to push a Bitcoin scam on their followers.
A Twitter spokesperson confirmed that the hack was a result of “a coordinated social engineering attack by people who successfully targeted some of our employees with access to internal systems and tools.”
Vice was able to obtain a screenshot of the internal tool used by the compromised Twitter employee’s account to access the users’ profiles. The console includes two tags that can apparently be applied to user accounts, “search blacklist” and “trends blacklist.”
What's the "trends blacklist" and "search blacklist," @twitter? pic.twitter.com/vxH9kh30yF
— Allum Bokhari (@LibertarianBlue) July 16, 2020
Twitter has yet to publicly acknowledge the existence of this console, despite the fact that it has been leaked by hackers. Nor has it responded to Breitbart News’ request for an explanation as to what the search and trends blacklists are, what their function is, and what accounts they have been applied to.
I've said before that I'm pretty sure I was added to a hashtag "trends blacklist" around 2012. Nice to have confirmation these blacklists exist. Thanks @twitter ! https://t.co/ufySJ8Njdg
— Michelle Malkin (@michellemalkin) July 16, 2020
If the tags are applied to users to suppress their content and keep their tweets from appearing, or appearing prominently in trends and search, it would appear to be yet another contradiction of the company’s longstanding claim that it does not “shadowban” — or covertly suppress — its users.
However, in a comment, a Twitter spokesman said “we’ve always been clear that not all tweets or accounts can appear in trends or search.”
For those asking, we've always been clear that not all Tweets or accounts can appear in Trends or search. More here: https://t.co/HX2Rm0xeX8 Key parts in the screenshots. pic.twitter.com/MB7zExZd7F
— Brandon (@bborrman) July 16, 2020
The hack also reveals that Twitter employees have the ability to access the accounts of world leaders and post on their behalf. Twitter has not explained how many employees have this power.
Twitter admins have the power to post on behalf of world leaders.
One employee could start WWIII with a tweet.
— Cernovich (@Cernovich) July 16, 2020
In 2017, a low-level Twitter employee was able to temporarily delete the account of President Donald Trump, an action that was widely celebrated by the mainstream media, although the former employee later said that it was a mistake.
Are you an insider at Google, Reddit, Facebook, Twitter, or any other tech company who wants to confidentially reveal wrongdoing or political bias at your company? Reach out to Allum Bokhari at his secure email address firstname.lastname@example.org.
Allum Bokhari is the senior technology correspondent at Breitbart News.
Please let us know if you're having issues with commenting.