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9 Dec, 2022 04:24

Musk promises Twitter ‘shadow ban’ reform

The social media platform will soon tell users their “true account status”
Musk promises Twitter ‘shadow ban’ reform

Twitter owner Elon Musk has said users will eventually be able to see their “shadowban” status, after reporters published internal company documents showing that the company engaged in the practice despite years of denials under its prior management.

On the heels of the second installment of the ‘Twitter Files’ – which revealed that the platform previously engaged in concerted efforts to reduce the “visibility” of some users and limit their reach – Musk vowed to create new tools offering more transparency into their account.

“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,” he said on Thursday.

Published on a rolling basis by journalists Matt Taibbi, Bari Weiss and others, the Twitter documents have uncovered a number of explosive revelations about the tech giant following Musk’s multi-billion buyout deal, completed in October. 

While Twitter’s senior management under former CEO Jack Dorsey vehemently denied that the site engaged in ‘shadowbans’ to hide certain posts, the latest batch of files appears to show otherwise. Moderators were previously provided with a series of tools to blacklist content which did not explicitly violate Twitter’s policies, including options to prevent posts from appearing in searches, the ‘trending’ section and an overall “Do Not Amplify” feature.

The documents also indicate users were targeted for shadowbans based on their political affiliations, noting several examples of high-profile conservative accounts whose posts were hidden from a broader audience.

The first round of files, shared by Taibbi last week in coordination with Musk himself, revealed details about Twitter’s decision in 2020 to suppress the reach of a New York Post story on then-presidential candidate Joe Biden’s son, Hunter, and his foreign business dealings. The call to ban the story – including in users’ direct messages – was made without the knowledge of Dorsey, who was reportedly kept out of the loop for many major decisions. 

Taibbi has also posted material showing that hold-overs from Dorsey’s team have attempted to hobble the Twitter investigation, with the company’s top lawyer Jim Baker fired by Musk earlier this week after he was found to have held up the publication process without authorization. Baker previously served as the FBI’s general counsel under Presidents Barack Obama and Donald Trump, and was heavily involved in allegations that Trump ‘colluded’ with Russia to win the 2020 presidential race.

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