Twitter: 'We do not shadow ban'

The social media site responds to President Trump's inflammatory tweet with an explainer

Twitter has responded to questions whether it "shadow bans" with an affirmative response that it does not carry out such banning, while also explaining what the term actually means.

Over the weekend an apparent change to the social media site's auto-populating search drop-down, first reported by Gizmodo, became the source of a heated online political debate where it was accused of shadow banning.

Advertisement - Article continues below

The debate even reached the White House, as President Donald Trump expressed his displeasure at the alleged practice. "Twitter 'SHADOW BANNING' prominent Republicans. Not good. We will look into this discriminatory and illegal practice at once! Many complaints," he tweeted.

The "prominent Republicans" Trump referred to were first reported in a story by Vice News, suggesting some senior Republican officials were not visible in automatic search results. Despite any evidence that it was deliberate, Vice was quick to call it shadow banning.

But has Twitter responded to the claims with a blog post authored by project leads Kayvon Beykpour and Vijaya Gadde that defined shadow banning as "deliberately making someone's content undiscoverable to everyone except the person who posted it, unbeknownst to the original poster".

"We do not shadow ban," they wrote. "You are always able to see the tweets from accounts you follow (although you may have to do more work to find them, like go directly to their profile). And we certainly don't shadow ban based on political viewpoints or ideology."

Advertisement
Advertisement - Article continues below
Advertisement - Article continues below

Twitter said it ranks tweets and search results because it is most useful when it's immediately relevant and that the ranking models take many signals into consideration to best organize tweets for timely relevance. It also looks to address what it calls "bad-faith" actors.

For example, if a search result has 30,000 tweets, Twitter will take that into consideration when ranking tweets from people that its users are interested in, which it will rank highly. Tweets that are popular are likely to be interesting and it will also rank them higher. However, tweets that the site believes "intend to manipulate or divide the conversation" will be ranked lower.

The site said it basis this workaround serving healthy public conversation and provided details on what constituted a "bad-faith actor". Accounts that lacked authenticity, such as no profile picture or an unconfirmed email address, the actions it had taken, such as who it followed and retweeted and how other users interacted with it were taken into account. Twitter said this approach is working as it had seen fewer reports of abuse and spam.

Advertisement - Article continues below

However, it did admit an issue where some accounts weren't auto-suggested in search even when people were searching for their specific name, but stressed it only impacted the search auto-suggestions. The accounts, their tweets and surrounding conversation about those accounts were showing up in search results and Twitter said the issue was now resolved.

Picture: Shutterstock

Featured Resources

Top 5 challenges of migrating applications to the cloud

Explore how VMware Cloud on AWS helps to address common cloud migration challenges

Download now

3 reasons why now is the time to rethink your network

Changing requirements call for new solutions

Download now

All-flash buyer’s guide

Tips for evaluating Solid-State Arrays

Download now

Enabling enterprise machine and deep learning with intelligent storage

The power of AI can only be realised through efficient and performant delivery of data

Download now
Advertisement

Recommended

Visit/marketing-comms/social-media/354837/twitter-bans-70-pro-bloomberg-accounts
social media

Twitter bans 70 pro-Bloomberg accounts

23 Feb 2020
Visit/social-media-marketing/30400/what-is-facebook-advertising-and-facebook-ads
social media marketing

What is Facebook advertising and Facebook ads?

23 Jul 2019
Visit/policy-legislation/33757/us-demands-social-media-details-from-visa-applicants
Policy & legislation

US demands social media details from visa applicants

3 Jun 2019

Most Popular

Visit/software/video-conferencing/355138/zoom-beaming-ios-user-data-to-facebook-for-targeted-ads
video conferencing

Zoom beams iOS user data to Facebook for targeted ads

27 Mar 2020
Visit/infrastructure/server-storage/355118/hpe-warns-of-critical-bug-that-destroys-ssds-after-40000-hours
Server & storage

HPE warns of 'critical' bug that destroys SSDs after 40,000 hours

26 Mar 2020
Visit/software/355113/companies-offering-free-software-to-fight-covid-19
Software

These are the companies offering free software during the coronavirus crisis

25 Mar 2020
Visit/mobile/mobile-phones/355088/apple-lifts-iphone-purchase-restrictions
Mobile Phones

Apple lifts iPhone purchase restrictions

23 Mar 2020