Undercover video footage shows what appears to be Twitter staff and former employees admitting how they censored posts and people they disagreed with; without them ever knowing either.
‘James O’Keefe, Project Veritas founder, posted a video showing an undercover reporter speaking to Abhinov Vadrevu, a former Twitter software engineer, at a San Francisco restaurant on January 3,’ reports the Daily Mail.
Vadrevu revealed a technique called ‘shadow banning’ which he described below:
‘One strategy is to shadow ban so you have ultimate control. The idea of a shadow ban is that you ban someone but they don’t know they’ve been banned, because they keep posting and no one sees their content.
‘So they just think that no one is engaging with their content, when in reality, no one is seeing it.’
Initially this was created to find fake bots and scammers, but was used in an abusive manner apparently.
Via the Daily Mail: Olinda Hassan, a policy manager for Twitter’s Trust and Safety team, was also filmed at a Twitter holiday party on December 15, talking about how the social network was developing an automated system for ‘down ranking’ ‘shi**y people’.
Another Twitter engineer claimed that staff already have tools to censor pro-Trump or conservative content.
But it doesn’t stop there. One Twitter engineer appeared to suggest that the social network was trying to ‘ban, like, a way of talking.’ Anyone found to be aggressive or negative ‘will just vanish.’
‘Every single conversation is going to be rated by a machine and the machine is going to say whether or not it’s a positive thing or a negative thing,’ said Steven Pierre, a Twitter software engineer, on December 8. He proposed developing an automated censure system.
‘And whether it’s positive or negative doesn’t (inaudible), it’s more like if somebody’s being aggressive or not. Right? Somebody’s just cursing at somebody, whatever, whatever. They may have point, but it will just vanish… It’s not going to ban the mindset, it’s going to ban, like, a way of talking.’
Ex-Twitter content review agent Mo Norai revealed last year that Twitter’s alleged left-leaning staff meant that conservative and pro-Trump content was subject to far harsher scrutiny than liberal posts.
He added that such decisions on content were never written down ‘but behind closed doors are lots of rules.’
‘A lot of unwritten rules, and being that we’re in San Francisco, we’re in California, very liberal, a very blue state,’ he explained to the undercover reporter on May 16, 2017. ‘You had to be… I mean as a company you can’t really say it because it would make you look bad, but behind closed doors are lots of rules.’
‘There was, I would say… Twitter was probably about 90% Anti-Trump, maybe 99% Anti-Trump.’
Another Project Veritas reporter tracked down Pranay Singh, a direct messaging engineer at Twitter, at a San Francisco bar on January 5.
He explained, while dancing, how shadow banning algorithms can work, and how the majority of users who are targeted are Republicans.
‘Yeah you look for Trump, or America, and you have like five thousand keywords to describe a redneck. Then you look and parse all the messages, all the pictures, and then you look for stuff that matches that stuff.’