Hello and good morning! Just wanted to drop a quick line to say that Twitter. Isn’t. Shadow banning. You. Despite reports you might have read to the contrary this week — a Vice article claimed that folks like the chair of the RNC were victimized — Twitter is not engaging in some organized internal effort to hide you tweets and your account from the wider world of Twitter. (Shadow banning, in case you’re not familiar, makes a user’s posts only visible to themselves. It’s different from an outright ban because, in theory, that user might not ever realize they’d been hidden from other users.) Instead, Twitter says it identified “an issue where some accounts weren’t auto-suggested in search, even when people were searching for their specific name.” The problem affected both Republicans and Democrats and, well, everyone else on Twitter. “Most accounts affected had nothing to do with politics at all.” It has since been fixed.
You don’t have to take Twitter’s word for it — even the Vice article crying shadowban quoted an independent expert explaining that the search problem was likely due to bad implementation, rather than shadow banning — but if you want to hear it straight from the source, Twitter released a detailed blog post on Thursday evening. It begins: “People are asking us if we shadow ban. We do not.” From there, the company explained how it ranks tweets and search results and how that system can impact which tweets you see. (Because Twitter doesn’t shadowban, it says you will always be able to see tweets from users you follow, you just might have “to do more work to find them, like go directly to their profile.” Twitter identified three points it uses in ranking content. One: “Tweets from people you’re interested in should be ranked highly.” Two: “Tweets that are popular are likely to be interesting and should be higher ranked.” And three: “Tweets from bad-faith actors who intend to manipulate or divide the conversation should be ranked lower.” Bad-faith actors are determined based on things like whether or not a user has confirmed their account with a cell-phone number or email and how often other accounts mute or report a user.