This week, VICE reported that Twitter had been effectively “shadowbanning” particular right-wing accounts, including those of Donald Trump Jr. and Republican National Committee Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel. In particular, Twitter’s search function was not automatically filling in the rest of the search term for those particular accounts. According to VICE:
The Republican Party chair Ronna McDaniel, several conservative Republican congressmen, and Donald Trump Jr.’s spokesman no longer appear in the auto-populated drop-down search box on Twitter, VICE News has learned. It’s a shift that diminishes their reach on the platform — and it's the same one being deployed against prominent racists to limit their visibility. The profiles continue to appear when conducting a full search, but not in the more convenient and visible drop-down bar. (The accounts appear to also populate if you already follow the person.) Democrats are not being “shadow banned” in the same way, according to a VICE News review.
Is that a shadowban? Of course. But according to Brian Feldman of New York magazine, it’s not ackshually a shadowban — it’s just naturally downgrading particular opinions: “This is a side effect of a minimal measure designed to make sure that people aren’t preemptively encouraged to consume bad information from dubious sources.”
Which is, technically, a shadowban.
In fact, even Jack Dorsey, Twitter’s creator, acknowledges the problem on his feed:
Kayvon Beykpour, social lead at Twitter, clarified:
But this is the problem: while social media giants like Twitter and Facebook insist that these are just misapplications of their algorithms, the algorithms themselves are completely non-transparent — and mistakes seem to universally hit just one side of the political aisle. There’s a reason for the lack of trust here, and transparency would help cure it. When you take it upon yourself to curate “healthy” conversation, you must define your terms — and all too often, those definitions have resulted in a bias toward those on the Left.