WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW:
- Twitter owner Elon Musk shared how his predecessors had “secret blacklists” that limited the visibility of certain accounts.
- Newsletter author Bari Weiss showcased several right-wing accounts that were put on lists such as “Trends Blacklist” or “Search Blacklist.”
- Twitter has previously denied claims that it has “shadow-banned” accounts on account of their views.
Elon Musk shared more internal communications from Twitter on Thursday night to shine a light on the platform’s “blacklists” that “prevent disfavored tweets from trending, and actively limit the visibility of entire accounts.”
Musk has been sharing the so-called “Twitter Files” to prove that the platform’s previous staff has engaged in censorship. Meanwhile, experts in online platforms pointed out that the files merely showed Twitter execs’ imperfect but conscientious struggle in applying complex policies in difficult cases.
Musk shared the information with newsletter author Bari Weiss, a former New York Times opinion columnist.
Weiss wrote about the platform’s “blacklists” in a Twitter thread showing cases where staff limited the visibility of some posts.
Weiss provided specific accounts that were “censored,” such as Stanford doctor Jay Bhattacharya, right-wing talk show host Dan Bongino, conservative activist Charlie Kirk, and Libsoftiktok operator Chaya Raichik.
Newsletter author Matt Taibbi shared the first “Twitter Files” installment. It showed how Twitter limited access to an article about the contents of Hunter Biden’s laptop during the weeks leading to the 2020 presidential election.
Twitter has stated that it would reduce the visibility of accounts that violated its rules, but it has not always been transparent about the specifics, such as who made the decisions and when they took place. It has also denied claims that it has engaged in “shadow banning” certain accounts.
Musk followed up on Weiss’ report, tweeting, “Twitter is working on a 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.”
Twitter has been one of the first platforms with policies that limited visibility of certain content instead of completely banning it. Other platforms, such as Google-owned YouTube, adopted similar policies to limit the spread of misinformation and conspiracy theories.
Last month, Musk declared a new Twitter policy: “freedom of speech, but not freedom of reach.” He said that fewer accounts will be suspended and less content will be taken down, but some material, such as “negative/hate tweets,” will have limited reach and monetization. He stated, “You won’t find the tweet unless you specifically seek it out, which is no different from rest of Internet.”
Weiss said that she and Taibbi have been given “broad and expanding access to Twitter’s files,” so the public can expect more reports to come.