'Project Veritas' founder James O'Keefe presents his latest undercover video investigation, in which current and former Twitter employees are shown explaining steps the social media giant is taking to censor political content that they don’t like. One engineer says they are not planning to ban "mindsets," but a certain "way of talking."
When asked if the banning process was an unwritten rule, one Content Review Agent said: "Very. A lot of unwritten rules… It was never written it was more said."
Olinda Hassan, Policy Manager for Twitter Trust and Safety explains, "we’re trying to 'down rank'… shitty people to not show up," using machine learning. "We’re working [that] on right now."
One former Twitter Software Engineer explains a strategy, called "shadow banning," that to his knowledge, Twitter has employed in the past and Reddit employs right now: "I definitely know Reddit does this, but I don't know if Twitter does this anymore."
Parnay Singh, Twitter Direct Messaging Engineer, on machine learning algorithms, "you have like five thousand keywords to describe a redneck…" "the majority of it are for Republicans."
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.
You just sort of turn off all the features for them. So, like, they still see everything, it's all there. You can like it, you can favorite it, or you can, like retweet or whatever.
But at the end of the day, no one else interacts... No one else sees what you're doing. So all that data is just thrown away. It's risky though [because] people will figure that shit out... It is a lot of bad press if, like, people figure out that you're like shadow banning them. It's like, unethical in some way. You know? So, I don't know.
In the past, people have been really, really pissed off about that. And even people who haven't been shadow banned have called it, like, a really terrible thing to do. So, yeah, it's a risky strategy...
I definitely know Reddit does this, but I don't know if Twitter does this anymore.
Twitter has been accused of "shadowbanning" people for years, but has always maintained that they do not have a political motive behind the algorithms that decide who gets what treatment. When someone has been "shadowbanned," their tweets are filtered out of other people's feeds: "They just think that no one is engaging with their content, when in reality, no one is seeing it"
This video release follows the first undercover Twitter exposé Project Veritas released on January 10th which showed a Twitter Senior Network Security Engineer saying that Twitter is "more than happy to help the Department of Justice with their little [President Donald Trump] investigation."
Read more about the investigation from Project Veritas
#Shadowban was the number one trending topic Thursday on Twitter:
In the rest of the video, Pranay Singh, a 'direct messaging engineer' with Twitter says the company is under pressure from "the U.S. government" to close down President Trump's account. "Because they don't like people messing with their politics, and he has shit on a lot of people." He also said Twitter gets requests from the government to censor celebrities "all of the f*cking time."