A second round of the Twitter Files has revealed what journalist Bari Weiss says is evidence that the company had blacklisted certain accounts.
- New Twitter owner Elon Musk has been working alongside journalists to release internal company communications in what has become known as the Twitter Files.
- In the most recent batch of documents, former New York Times opinion columnist Bari Weiss shared what she says is evidence that Twitter employees “build blacklists, prevent disfavored tweets from trending, and actively limit the visibility of entire accounts.”
- Critics point out that Twitter has been open about restricting account visibility in the past—though the company has previously denied “shadow banning.”
- Musk has begun releasing these documents in an attempt to show that previous Twitter executives censored opposition, however, critics say that the Twitter execs were only trying their best to navigate difficult policies—though somewhat imperfectly.
Why it’s news
In a Twitter thread published on Thursday, Weiss shared all the instances she says prove Twitter intentionally constricted the reach of certain tweets.
Weiss specifically shared information about accounts from activist Charlie Kirk, Dan Bongino, Stanford doctor Jay Bhattacharya, and Libsoftiktok account holder Chaya Raichik.
In a series of screenshots, Weiss shared a look at what Twitter employees would see when viewing accounts.
By using tags on certain accounts, Twitter employees flagged actions on the accounts Weiss discussed. Bhattacharya and Libsoftiktok were placed on a “trends blacklist” which prevented their tweets from trending. Dan Bongino was on a “search blacklist” and Charlie Kirk on “do not amplify.”
The practice of adding these tags is called “visibility filtering” inside Twitter headquarters, but Weiss says this is evidence of shadow banning, a method of censorship Twitter had previously denied that it practiced.
Weiss says in one of her tweets—“Twitter denied that it does such things. In 2018, Twitter’s Vijaya Gadde (then Head of Legal Policy and Trust) and Kayvon Beykpour (Head of Product) said: ‘We do not shadow ban.’ They added: ‘And we certainly don’t shadow ban based on political viewpoints or ideology.’”
However, the exact definition of shadow banning is up for some debate. Twitter has been open in the past that the company can reduce the visibility of accounts that repeatedly violate rules. It has not always been as clear how it decides when to restrict accounts or who makes that decision.
In response, Musk has promised to change Twitter’s settings so that users can see if any flags are on their account and give users access to appeal.
“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,” Musk said in a tweet.
These revelations from Weiss are only the most recent additions to the Twitter files. Both she and fellow journalist Matt Taibbi, who released the first Twitter Files, have promised there will be more information.