Guerrilla journalist James O’Keefe released his latest bombshell undercover video today, exposing Twitter’s so-called “shadow banning” of conservative users.
The 15-minute video features eight Twitter employees – both current and former – candidly discussing the social media giant’s efforts to surreptitiously suppress content for political reasons:
Conservatives have long suspected Twitter to engage in the practice of “shadow banning,” or toying with algorithms to limit an account’s reach without its owner knowing.
In one clip, Pranay Singh, a Direct Messaging Engineer at Twitter, describes the process of choosing which accounts to target: “you look for ‘Trump,’ or ‘America,’ or any of like, five thousand, like, keywords to describe a redneck.”
Software Engineer Steven Pierre then acknowledges that his employer is “not going to ban the mindset” of these accounts; rather, “it’s going to ban, like, a way of talking.”
The chilling revelations from O’Keefe’s video appear to corroborate key claims in GotNews Editor-in-Chief Charles C. Johnson’s free speech lawsuit against Twitter, which he filed on Monday in California Superior Court.
Johnson’s lawsuit alleges that “Twitter has repeatedly banned conservative users under the guise of stopping harassment, but fails to do the same when the harassers have a liberal viewpoint,” a belief shared by FCC Chairman Ajit Pai.
Citing leaked internal Twitter emails published in BuzzFeed last month, which document how Johnson’s own account was suspended arbitrarily and without cause, the lawsuit argues “As such, and because Twitter has admitted the Plaintiffs did not violate their Twitter rules, Plaintiff has reason to and does believe that his accounts were banned as a result of Twitter’s bias against those who promote conservative political views.”
Johnson has also launched a crowdfunding campaign for his lawsuit, describing the case as “your last chance to stop Twitter’s management from stealing the next election by stopping them in court.”
The #FreeChuck2018 campaign, which also released a must-see video, accepts and greatly appreciates donations in both cash and cryptocurrencies. If you wish to “vote with your wallet and help us make the Internet truly neutral before it’s too late,” you can contribute to the campaign here.
Stay tuned for more.
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Twitter direct messaging engineer Pranay Singh admitted to mass-banning accounts that express interest in God, guns, and America, during a Project Veritas investigation.
“Just go to a random [Trump] tweet and just look at the followers. They’ll all be like, guns, God, ‘Merica, and with the American flag and the cross,” declared Singh, who was secretly recorded by Project Veritas reporters. “Like, who says that? Who talks like that? It’s for sure a bot.”
After being asked whether he could get rid of the accounts, he replied, “Yeah. You just delete them, but, like, the problem is there are hundreds of thousands of them, so you’ve got to, like, write algorithms that do it for you.”
— Project Veritas (@Project_Veritas) January 11, 2018
“So if there’s like ‘American, guns,’ [in the account bio] can you write an algorithm to just take all those people out?” asked one undercover reporter.
“Umm, yeah, it’s actually how we do it,” Singh replied. “You look for ‘Trump,’ or ‘America,’ or any of, like, five thousand, like, keywords to describe a redneck, and then you look, and you parse all the messages, all the pictures, and then look for stuff that matches that stuff… You assign a value to each thing, so like Trump would be .5, a picture of a gun would be like 1.5, and if the total comes up above a certain value, then it’s a bot.”
An undercover reporter then asked Singh whether the “majority of the algorithms” are “against conservatives or liberals,” to which he responded, “I would say a majority of it are for Republicans, because they’re all from Russia, and they wanted Trump to win.”
“So you would mostly just get rid of conservatives?” asked the reporter.
“Yeah,” he replied.
Other former and current Twitter employees also revealed Twitter’s censorship tools and tactics during the Project Veritas investigation, with several individuals admitting to “shadow banning” pro-Trump accounts, conservatives, and “shitty people.”
Shadow banning is the act of banning a user from a platform without them realizing. Shadow-banned users will typically be removed from the public eye, so other users cannot see or interact with them, however since the user is not alerted to the shadow-ban, they will not understand why their posts suddenly receive no engagement.