A disturbing report from Breitbart reveals that Twitter has been "shadowbanning" some conservatives sites without telling the owners of the accounts that their tweets are being restricted.
According to the report, confirmed to Breitbart by a Twitter official, the company has a "white list" and a "black list," with white list tweets getting favored search engine treatment while blacklisted accounts are left off timelines and virtually blocked from getting search engine coverage.
Our source was backed up by a senior editor at a major digital publisher, who told Breitbart that Twitter told him it deliberately whitelists and blacklists users. He added that he was afraid of the site’s power, noting that his tweets could disappear from users’ timelines if he got on the wrong side of the company.
Shadowbanning, sometimes known as “Stealth Banning” or “Hell Banning,” is commonly used by online community managers to block content posted by spammers. Instead of banning a user directly (which would alert the spammer to their status, prompting them to create a new account), their content is merely hidden from public view.
For site owners, the ideal shadowban is when a user never realizes he’s been shadowbanned.
However, Twitter isn’t merely targeting spammers. For weeks, users have been reporting that tweets from populist conservatives, members of the alternative right, cultural libertarians, and other anti-PC dissidents have disappeared from their timelines.
Among the users complaining of shadowbans are sci-fi author and alt-right figurehead Vox Day, geek culture blogger “Daddy Warpig,” and the popular pro-Trump account Ricky Vaughn. League of Gamers founder and former World of Warcraft team lead Mark Kern, as well as adult actress and anti-censorship activist Mercedes Carrera, have also reported that their tweets are not appearing on the timelines of their followers.
The pattern of shadowban reports, which skews towards the alt-right, the populist right, and cultural libertarians, follows close on the heels of Twitter’s establishment of a “Trust and Safety Council” packed with left-wing advocacy groups, as well as Islamic research centre the Wahid Institute.
What criteria does Twitter use to determine if a site goes on its black list? Are left-wing sites also on the black list? Given the low threshold most politically correct companies have regarding the definition of "hate speech," you can imagine several prominent conservative sites blacklisted simply because they don't toe the P.C. line.
Meanwhile, a Scottish man has been arrested for "a series of alleged offensive online posts relating to Syrian refugees," according to the Guardian:
Following a report of a series of alleged offensive online posts relating to Syrian refugees living in Rothesay on Bute, Police Scotland confirmed on Tuesday that a 40-year-old man, understood to be from the Inverclyde area, had been arrested under the Communications Act.
Twelve Syrian families arrived in the seaside town in early December, as Scotland welcomed one third of the thousand refugees David Cameron agreed to take from camps bordering Syria before the end of last year.
Following the arrest, Insp Ewan Wilson from Dunoon police office said: “I hope that the arrest of this individual sends a clear message that Police Scotland will not tolerate any form of activity which could incite hatred and provoke offensive comments on social media.”
In this case, the posts appeared on Facebook, who is helping European authorities track down people critical of their government's refugee policies:
This follows news in late January that police in the Netherlands were visiting the homes of citizens who made posts that were deemed overly-critical of the Dutch government’s policies towards refugees. It also follows Facebook’s announcement that it would work with European governments, particularly Germany, to track and clamp down on hostility towards migrants on the platform.
So what did the Scottish man write that caused his arrest? Apparently, authorities haven't bothered to release the Facebook posts in question. Or the media isn't publishing them. That alone should set off alarm bells for free speech advocates. How can we judge if the "hate speech" warranted arrest unless the public is allowed to see why authorities felt it necessary to take someone into custody?
We are living in evil times when huge social media companies get to determine the flow of information about politics and policy.