Twitter Files 2: Select group placed people on secret blacklists, says report

Vijaya Gadde, Parag Agrawal, Jack Dorsey, and Yoel Roth are some members of this secret group, according to Weiss



Photo: AP
Photo: AP

By ANI

Published: Fri 9 Dec 2022, 10:16 AM

Twitter employees sometimes build blacklists and actively limit the visibility of entire accounts, according to the second instalment of Elon Musk's "Twitter Files", which sheds light on the hidden practices of the company's previous management.

"A new #TwitterFiles investigation reveals that teams of Twitter employees build blacklists, prevent unfavourable tweets from trending, and actively limit the visibility of entire accounts or even trending topics — all in secret, without informing users," said the editor of The Free Press Bari Weiss, in a series of linked tweets.

"Twitter once had a mission to give everyone the power to create and share ideas and information instantly, without barriers. Along the way, barriers nevertheless were erected," she added.

Even though the previous management denied reports of a shadow ban, Weiss said that Twitter executives and employees used a powerful tool known as 'Visibility Filtering' (VF) to block searches of individual users and to limit the scope of a particular tweet's discoverability.

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Weiss said that "VF" refers to Twitter's control over user visibility.

"What many people call 'shadow banning', Twitter executives and employees call 'Visibility Filtering' or 'VF'. Multiple high-level sources confirmed its meaning."

'Take, for example, Stanford’s Dr. Jay Bhattacharya (@DrJBhattacharya) who argued that Covid lockdowns would harm children. Twitter secretly placed him on a “Trends Blacklist,” which prevented his tweets from trending. (Photo: @bariweiss/Twitter)
"Take, for example, Stanford’s Dr. Jay Bhattacharya (@DrJBhattacharya) who argued that Covid lockdowns would harm children. Twitter secretly placed him on a “Trends Blacklist,” which prevented his tweets from trending. (Photo: @bariweiss/Twitter)

She said that the select group — which handled up to 200 "cases" a day, and decided whether to limit the reach of certain users — was the Strategic Response Team - Global Escalation Team.

"There existed a level beyond official ticketing; beyond the rank-and-file moderators following the company's policy on paper. That is the Site Integrity Policy, Policy Escalation Support, known as SIP-PES," she added.

'Or consider the popular right-wing talk show host, Dan Bongino (@dbongino), who at one point was slapped with a 'Search Blacklist'.' (Photo: @bariweiss/Twitter)
"Or consider the popular right-wing talk show host, Dan Bongino (@dbongino), who at one point was slapped with a 'Search Blacklist'." (Photo: @bariweiss/Twitter)

Weiss said that this secret group included Head of Legal, Policy, and Trust Vijaya Gadde, the Global Head of Trust and Safety Yoel Roth, subsequent CEOs Jack Dorsey and Parag Agrawal, and others.

"This is where the biggest, most politically sensitive decisions got made. Think high follower account, controversial, another Twitter employee told us. For these there would be no ticket or anything," she said.

Last week, journalist Matt Taibbi — in collaboration with Musk published "Twitter Files", documenting Twitter's internal communications to disclose links with political actors, as well as to focus on how the social network blocked stories related to Hunter Biden's laptop, in the lead-up to the 2020 US Presidential election.

The published files alleged that the previous Twitter management had taken steps to suppress reporting regarding the Hunter Biden issue.

According to the Twitter Files published by Taibbi, Twitter deputy general counsel James Baker played a role in the discussion about whether the laptop story fell under Twitter's "hacked materials" policy.

The Bidens have faced scrutiny and criticism from Republicans and others for their alleged misconduct in Hunter Biden's foreign business dealings, which came into the public spotlight following the release of the emails.

On Monday, the White House dismissed the Twitter Files as "full of old news".


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