President Trump has vowed to investigate Twitter for a practice known as “shadow banning,” an alleged act whereas Twitter doesn’t’ auto-populate prominent accounts, namely conservative-leaning profiles.
Twitter and Facebook both may lower the reach of accounts to their audiences perceivably due to political bias. Trump’s angst over the matter comes on the heels of Vice News reporting the practice, which was followed by a slew of prominent Republicans and conservatives validating the claim.
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
Vice’s article focused mostly on disabling auto-population of accounts. For example, according to Vice, Donald Trump Jr.’s account wouldn’t auto-populate when users would begin typing in his name in the Twitter search bar, likely greatly reducing the amount of people able to find Trump Jr.’s account. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.), Republican National Committee Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel, Fox News contributor Sara Carter, were among a number of conservatives backing up the allegations made by Vice.
Trump directly pointed out McDaniel’s instance on Twitter.
— Donald Trump Jr. (@DonaldJTrumpJr) July 25, 2018
Steve Scalise (R-LA) echoed the President’s tone in terms of looking to investigate/regulate the social media giant.
Silicon Valley’s bias against conservatives is apparent. It’s time they acknowledge it and tell us what they are going to do to fix it. https://t.co/sXvFWaWrNQ
— Rep. Steve Scalise (@SteveScalise) July 25, 2018
Worse more, Vice is reputably liberal.
Twitter responded by blaming “technical issues” on the matter.
To be clear, our behavioral ranking doesn’t make judgements based on political views or the substance of tweets. We recently publicly testified to Congress on this topic https://t.co/Zk4DL7Q3hq
— Kayvon Beykpour (@kayvz) July 25, 2018
So yes, it was happening, far from the “conspiracy vibe” that many liberals like to stamp on “lowered social media reach on conservative accounts” narratives.
However, things are about to get murky for the President. Both Twitter and Facebook have notoriously lowered reach for profiles that don’t fit into their political box (at least, if you ask those accounts). The thing is, no one can prove its truly happening. As it stands, the only proof is anecdotal.
That said, it happens, our own website has seen evidence of the matter. With Facebook, they claim to root out “hate speech” that’s not compliant with their policy. This allows Facebook to practice the shadow ban, or lowered reach, without much liability in terms of public scrutiny. Although Zuckerberg denied the practice of lowering reach on conservative accounts in front of his Congressional hearing, he left open the idea that Facebook can still lower reach for content deemed hateful. This allows Facebook and Zuckerberg and “out” if they are ever discovered to participate in such algorithmic deceit.
That said, it remains, both Facebook and Twitter are private companies that act as one of several gateways to the Internet. Google and Apple and, some believe, Reddit, are other prominent beings that can control/subvert/throttle the voice of online dissent or uncomfortable messages or, sadly, conservative content.
What the future holds, remains to be seen. While we don’t promote government involvement in most anything, the online monopoly mafias are putting undue and intolerable strains on freedom of speech. The Constitution certainly did plan for Facebook and Twitter and Google and Apple to be the gateway of censorship. Hopefully, these entities realize that their value is best served by taking a more hands-off approach and allowing the communities to unfollow, ignore, and delete. If it isn’t illegal, it shouldn’t be censored. That’s my view.
Photo by Gage Skidmore
Author: Jim Satney
PrepForThat’s Editor and lead writer for political, survival, and weather categories.
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