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    What Is Shadow Banning? Did Twitter Use It To “Blacklist” Accounts Before Elon Musk?

    Amidst the chaos, new revelations are surfacing on Twitter about the past executives’ actions that went unnoticed. Since Elon Musk bought the microblogging app, every day there have been some new updates about the chaos, changes, or explosive revelations that Musk himself approves and has peddled. Recently, the author Matt Taibi and The Free Press editor Bari Weiss are running some exposés about the behind-the-scenes functioning of the former Twitter executives.

    Since 2nd December 2022, the two have been running stories about how certain previous actions have impacted some political mayhem. On the day, they started the exposés under the name ‘Twitter Files’. The first story they ran was about the Hunter Biden Laptop scandal. Later, they revealed that James Baker, the Vice President and General Counsel of Twitter tried to “suppress” the information regarding the high-profile scandal. Now, they have alleged that the platform was indulging in something called “Shadow Banning”. What is it?

    Read More: What Is Twitter Files Scandal Uncovered By Elon Musk?

    What Is Shadow Banning?

    What is Shadow Banning?
    What is Shadow Banning?

    If you have followed the 2020 elections, you may know the term “shadow campaigning”, which was a rather shocking parallel campaigning that ran against former President Donald Trump. In the shadow campaign, influential people and lobbyists from all walks of life came together to defeat Trump without implicitly violating any law. Now, the issue of “shadow banning” has resurfaced again after two years when the company denied any shadow ban.

    So, what is shadow banning? Any social media platform executes a shadow ban without the user account’s knowledge. The term can be explained as a “quasi-ban”. The platform does not completely ban you but hinders the reach of any posts or content to any other account. The activity may get reduced before when you posted the content that led to the concerned social media site partially banning or reducing your visibility on the platform.

    On December 8th, 2022, journalist Bari Weiss uploaded a Twitter thread of the second edition of ‘Twitter Files’. She called it ‘Twitter’s Secret Blacklist’. After the investigation resumed post the Baker issue, they found out that “teams of Twitter employees build blacklists, prevent disfavored tweets from trending, and actively limit the visibility of entire accounts or even trending topics—all in secret, without informing users”.

    She gave several examples including Dr. Jay Bhattacharya, who claimed that “Covid lockdowns would harm children”. Twitter blacklisted from the “trends” section.

    Read More: Who Dethroned Elon Musk As World’s Richest Man For A Few Hours?

    Did Twitter Shadow Ban Accounts Before Elon Musk Tookover?

    Elon Musk
    Elon Musk

    In July 2018, VICE ran a story about how Twitter prevented certain Republican accounts from appearing in the search results. It included Ronna McDaniel and Donal Trump Jr.’s spokesperson’s Twitter accounts. Along with them, other racist handles also had their visibility “limited”.

    The spokesperson at Twitter at that time told the portal, “We are aware that some accounts are not automatically populating in our search box and shipping a change to address this”.  The  spokesperson said, “I’d emphasize that our technology is based on account *behavior* not the content of Tweets” when asked about the Republicans issue.

    Vijaya Gadde, who was the head of Legal Policy and Trust, said, “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”. Jack Dorsey, the then-CEO, added, “We do rank tweets by default to make Twitter more immediately relevant”.

    After the Twitter thread was published, Elon Musk affirmed that there will be a new software update “that will show your true account status, so you know clearly if you’ve been shadowbanned, the reason why and how to appeal”.

    Read More: Did Elon Musk Discriminate Against Women During Layoffs?

    Nishant Bhise
    Nishant Bhise
    Nishant Bhise is a Sub-Editor at FirstCuriosity. He has more than 2 years of experience in Entertainment content writing with the organization. Besides being a journalist and humanist, he loves cinema and intersectionality, basically everything that screams love, hope, and of course, Lady Gaga. Nishant loves and breathes popular culture, music, especially hip-hop and pop, and the royal family drama. Along with that, he takes great interest in the happenings in the technology world and politics. He is an LGBTQIA+ ally. Approach him with an apple juice to discuss Modern Family, Pose, and Schitt’s Creek.

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