Monday, December 9, 2019

Twitter and Shadow Banning - Controlling the Narrative

Twitter, one of the world's leading social media networks, has implemented new terms in its Terms of Service agreement which will take effect on January 1, 2020.   While users are required to click to accept these terms in order to continue to use Twitter, it is highly unlikely that any of them will actually read through the entire 34 page document, thereby missing a key change to Twitter's modus operandi.

Let's start with some background on shadow banning.  Shadow banning is a technique used by social networks to block a user's content on social media sites in a way that the user doesn't know that they have been banned.  Shadow banning does not prevent the user from posting new content that can be viewed by their current followers but it does prevent content from appearing on anyone else's feed.  By shadow banning, social networks can suppress content that does not follow their narrative, a practice that has become particularly prevalent and pertinent in the post-2016 election period.

Now, being thankful that the internet never forgets anything, let's go back in time to see what Twitter had to say about the practice of shadow banning.  On July 26, 2019, this was posted on Twitter's blog:

Note the first paragraph:

"People are asking us if we shadow ban.  We do not."

The third paragraph opens with a repetition "We do not shadow ban."  Twitter also claims that it  most certainly "...does not shadow ban based on political viewpoints or ideology" and that its users will always be able to see the tweets from accounts that they follow.

Now, let's go to the present.  Current Twitter users have agreed to the following current Terms of Service (TOS), a that all users must digitally sign to use Twitter.  Let's focus on Section 4 Using the Services:

Note that this TOS is effective only until December 31, 2019

Twitter has recently added this banner to their Terms of Service page:

Let's look at the new version of Twitters TOS, particularly Section 4:

You will notice the following addition (highlighted and in bold):

"We may also remove or refuse to distribute any Content on the Services, limit distribution or visibility of any Content on the service, limit distribution or visibility of any Content on the service, suspend or terminate users, and reclaim usernames without liability to you.

Note that this TOS is effective on January 2, 2020.

And, just in case you happen to believe that Twitter would never shadow ban, here is an investigation by Project Veritas where it recorded a former Twitter Software Engineer stating the following:

“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.”

And in case you don't think that Twitter is vindictive, here's what occurred in late November 2019:

It certainly would appear that Twitter has done a 180 degree turnaround on its pledge to not shadow ban users that offend its sensibilities.  The technological tyrants are at it again; we are living on the thin edge of the wedge when it comes to censorship of narratives that do not follow those of the companies that drive the majority of the world's media.

We live in a post-truth world where a handful of companies control the narrative.

1 comment:

  1. George Orwell saw the future very clearly. What has change since he wrote is the technology to make it come true along with the control of the technology by a select, very wealthy few.