Twitter’s CEO is still going out of his way to appease conservatives and conspiracy theorists.
One day after publicly reaffirming his company’s decision not to suspend InfoWars host Alex Jones, Jack Dorsey went on Sean Hannity’s radio show to reassure conservatives that Twitter does not “shadow ban” people for their political beliefs.
Shadow banning is the term used by some conspiracy theorists to describe Twitter’s practice of limiting the visibility of users who engage in trolling, harassment, and other toxic behavior. But for the far-right, it’s become a rallying cry — proof that Twitter does in fact “censor” users with whom it disagrees.
“We do not shadow ban according to political ideology or viewpoint or content — period,” Dorsey told Hannity.
Twitter “SHADOW BANNING” prominent Republicans. Not good. We will look into this discriminatory and illegal practice at once! Many complaints.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 26, 2018
After a series of articles claimed the social network was shadow banning well-known Republicans, Trump added fuel to the Twitter dumpster fire saying his administration would “look into this discriminatory and illegal practice at once.”
The problem for Twitter is that this narrative is completely false. But the fact that Twitter, which has been desperately trying to shake its reputation as a platform for toxic trolls, has now explained itself numerous times hasn’t made much of a difference. Across the internet, members of the conspiracy-minded far-right have seized on the idea that the Bay Area company is part of a larger conspiracy to silence anyone and everyone they disagree with.
A subset of these users, claiming to be victims of Twitter’s shadow bans, have taken to adding the ❌ emoji to their Twitter names to indicate their supposed shadow ban status.
Lots of people asking me what the Red Cross in my profile is about? It’s me stating that I have a Twitter QFD shadow ban! To check if you too have one go here & enter your twitter handle! https://t.co/bMSXSWsagO If you ARE shadow banned insert a Red Cross in your Twitter handle!
— David Vance ❌ (@DVATW) July 30, 2018
“These signals evolve minute by minute, hourly by hourly,” he said of Twitter’s filtering tools. “These are not scarlet, permanent letters that people then take on as a badge and will never be ranked high in search, or not allowed to trend, or ranked high in conversation. These are models that are looking at behaviors, and behaviors of bad faith actors who intend to manipulate, distract, divide a conversation.”
In other words: Twitter’s algorithms are constantly changing. Those who have been affected by supposed shadow bans can simply stop harassing and trolling others to have their accounts go back to normal.
Yet even Hannity suggested he was unwilling to take Dorsey’s explanation at face value.
“I am concerned if it’s going to turn into a ban only conservative issue, which I can see happening,” he said before ending the interview.mashable