Project Veritas went undercover to get the scoop on what’s really ticking under the hood of Twitter and why certain accounts are seemingly silenced out of feeds or don’t seem to show up as often as they should. Well, it turns out that current and former Twitter employees revealed that the company heavily utilized shadowbans to suppress certain voices, and that they’re working on new programs to silence people who they feel are problematic.
The 15 minute video from Project Veritas was recently published on their YouTube channel, covering some of the hot topics of censorship that have become so pervasive in the realm of the social media giant.
In the video we learn that people like Mo Norai, a former content review agent at Twitter, told the undercover journalist that about 90%, or maybe 99%, of the people working at Twitter are anti-Trump. He explained in the video that given that the company is located in San Francisco, California, it’s a blue state and the employees are almost entirely Left-leaning Liberals. He also pointed out that a lot of censorship wasn’t done automatically but was manually suppressed.
Another employee stated that half of the people at Twitter want to ban Trump from the service.
Olinda Hassan, the policy manager for the Twitter Trust & Safety division, the same division that supports Zoe Quinn’s Crash Override Network and Anita Sarkeesian’s Feminist Frequency – and continues to support them even after the leaks revealed CON was engaged in organized doxing and harassment and Sarkeesian herself engaged in verbal harassment of Sargon of Akkad – admitted that Twitter is working on new software to further shadowban certain people from the service. Hassan was asked about removing the appearance of certain people showing up in a timeline due to retweets, with the journalist specifically using Conservative journalist Mike Cernovich as an example. Hassan retorted…
“Yeah, that’s something we’re working on. Yeah, it’s something we’re working on, where we’re trying to get the shitty people to not show up. It’s a product thing we’re working on.”
One of the tactics Twitter has been using is shadowbans. A shadowban is where only the user making the tweets can see their own tweets, so they’re blocked out of interacting with other users.
Abhinav Vadrevu, a former software engineer at Twitter, explained that people really hate shadowbans because it’s a fairly low tactic to force people into isolation boxes away from everyone else. Various individuals called out Twitter for specifically shadowbanning users who espoused politics that didn’t align with the Liberal views of Twitter staff. It was especially a hot topic back in July of 2016, and once more in February of 2017.
Pranay Singh, a direct messaging engineer at Twitter, acknowledged that there are filters that are used to weed out certain types of users. According to Singh, a majority of the bots pushing for Trump were Russian in nature advocating Conservative values, so Twitter had allegedly targeted them.
Twitter also has one of its software engineers, Steven Pierre, working on an updated algorithm to help to the AI dynamically determine positive or negative dispositions in conversations. Highly negatively charged conversations will “vanish”, according to Pierre. We see elements of this already in play where certain types of tweets containing certain kinds of language are put behind a content warning messages, usually shuffled down to the very bottom of the tweet thread.
Pierre also mentioned that the new AI won’t ban a “mindset” but will ban “a way of talking”.
Twitter issued a statement in response to the video to address the concerning topics brought up in the investigative piece, and James O’Keefe tweeted it out. Dorsey stated…
“We deplore the deceptive and underhanded tactics by which this footage was obtained and selectively edited to fit a pre-determined narrative. Twitter is committed to enforcing our rules without bias and empowering every voice on our platform, in accordance with the Twitter Rules.”
As Mo Norai pointed out in the video, there were a lot of unspoken rules applied at the company to silence voices. Twitter did recently update their rules to allow them to trammel certain kinds of sociopolitical views on the platform with extreme prejudice. Twitter immediately went after groups they identified as supremacists, permanently banning them.
Gab.ai responded to Project Veritas’ video, stating that they would be crowdsourcing an alternative to rival Twitter due to the partisan censorship policies exercised by the social media company, stating in an e-mail…
“Over the last several months we’ve been working closely with Project Veritas to help them infiltrate these big technology companies and expose the mass censorship and corruption happening each and everyday. Thanks to James O’Keefe and his team there is now undeniable proof of Twitter employees admitting that censorship, double standards, and hypocrisy are indeed happening on these platforms. […]
”We are building an alternative platform for The People, funded by The People. In just a few weeks we’ve reserved over $1.4 million dollars for Gab’s next funding round. Not from Silicon Valley Venture Capitalists or special interests, but directly from our users.”
Gab.ai hasn’t been entirely free from controversy, but they’re currently working on expanding the platform and reaching a broader audience. Currently many people use Voat and Gab.ai as Conservative alternatives to social media networks such as Reddit and Twitter.