It’s not like this is news for conservatives, as Silicon Valley is insanely liberal. Then again, while these folks may despise the conservative agenda, they realize millions of Americans hold these views—and that means a large pool of customers. At the same time, that doesn’t mean that shenanigans don't take place. Case in point, until yesterday, Twitter appeared to be effectively shadow banning prominent Republican leaders, like RNC chairwoman Ronna McDaniel, from searchable results. Vice News had more:
Our undercover videos show Twitter engineers discussing "shadow banning" at length, how it gives them "ultimate control," that they will "ban a way of talking," and how they target your supporters specifically. pic.twitter.com/f5MA2RrPq7— James O'Keefe (@JamesOKeefeIII) July 26, 2018
Twitter is limiting the visibility of prominent Republicans in search results — a technique known as “shadow banning” — in what it says is a side effect of its attempts to improve the quality of discourse on the platform.
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. McDaniel’s counterpart, Democratic Party chair Tom Perez, and liberal members of Congress — including Reps. Maxine Waters, Joe Kennedy III, Keith Ellison, and Mark Pocan — all continue to appear in drop-down search results. Not a single member of the 78-person Progressive Caucus faces the same situation in Twitter’s search.
"it's totally just an algorithm that happens to be systematically biased against conservatives so no biggie and nothing you can do about it" https://t.co/pKsppPAiKb— Mollie (@MZHemingway) July 25, 2018
When this article was posted, Twitter did not respond for comment, but early this morning, they appeared to fix this issue, though it had already reached the ears of President Trump—who vowed to look into this practice:
Twitter “SHADOW BANNING” prominent Republicans. Not good. We will look into this discriminatory and illegal practice at once! Many complaints.— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 26, 2018
Twitter appears to have adjusted its platform overnight to no longer limit the visibility of some prominent Republicans in its search results, a problem that the company said was a side effect of its attempts to clean up discourse on its platform.
Twitter did not immediately respond for comment about the changes but Twitter's Kayvon Beykpour announced on Wednesday that the fixes would be coming.
The search problems appeared to have been a side effect of Twitter’s recently stepped up attempts at improving “conversation health” and limiting the reach of “troll-like behaviors.”
But Democrats in Congress and DNC chair Tom Perez did not appear to be affected like McDaniel and some other congressional Republicans.
So, yes, the issue has been remedied for now, but I’m guessing it will do little to calm down fears on the right that social media is biased towards conservatives. Hey, it’s even convinced some reporters that this isn’t crazy talk regarding shadow banning—and it isn’t. Now, that the glitch is apparently fixed, we’ll see if the Trump administration looks into this, I wouldn’t wait in anticipation, however.
Must admit that when some R sources have complained about this to me I mocked them to their face as conspiracy theorists. This Vice article makes me rethink that, and response from Twitter is inadequate. https://t.co/zjAnFV5dzT via @vicenews— Jonathan Swan (@jonathanvswan) July 25, 2018