Twitter Files 2.0 launches new attacks on social media site

Twitter Files 2.0 launches new attacks on social media site
Twitter Files 2.0 launches new attacks on social media site

Independent journalist Bari Weiss published a 31-tweet thread titled “Twitter Files 2.0” on December 9. She makes the following main allegation: “Teams of Twitter personnel create blacklists, stop unfavourable tweets from trending, and deliberately limit the visibility of entire accounts or even hot topics—all in secret, without alerting users.”

Twitter Files 2.0 launches new attacks on social media site

Conservatives have intensified their condemnation of the tech company since the thread was posted on Twitter, while liberal pundits have mostly dismissed the disclosures as “nothing new.”

“Twitter Files 2.0” follows this week’s disclosures about conservative podcaster Matt Taibbi’s podcast, which Elon Musk, Twitter’s new owner, dubbed “Twitter Files.”

According to the “Twitter Files” thread, Twitter intentionally suppressed a potentially damaging news regarding US President Joe Biden’s son Hunter and his alleged shady business transactions in Ukraine in 2020, during Joe Biden’s presidential campaign.

Due to his alleged wrongdoings in Ukraine, Hunter Biden has long been a target of the Republican Party and the right wing of America. The New York Post published an article in October 2020, three weeks before the 2020 US Presidential election, titled “Biden’s Secret Emails: Ukrainian exec thanks Hunter Biden for the “chance to meet” veep dad.”

According to Weiss’s Twitter thread, Twitter workers have complete control over the appearance of users or posts, and they utilise this ability to disproportionately target voices on the right and the left. The employees’ term for this control is “Visibility Filtering” (VF).

VF involves, among other things, preventing searches about a certain user or post, limiting the audience for whom a tweet is discoverable, and preventing specific people from trending or turning up in hashtag searches. Allegedly, none of this is disclosed to or contextualised for the user who is being impacted. As a result, a specific user’s reach on Twitterverse is severely constrained absent an explicit and formal ban.

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Weiss claims that VF was employed to stifle conservative Twitter users. Weiss cites, among others, Stanford’s Dr. Jay Bhattacharya, who frequently voiced worries about the effects of prolonged lockdowns on children’s health and academic performance. Weiss said that Twitter put him on a “Trends Blacklist” in secret so that his tweets wouldn’t trend.

Weiss also cited Dan Bongino, a well-known host of right-wing talk shows, as an example of someone who had once been placed on a “search blocklist.” Weiss tweeted, “We control visibility quite a bit,” citing an unnamed Twitter engineer. Additionally, we have a lot of influence over how your content is amplified. And common people are unaware of how much we accomplish.

Following Weiss’s thread, the American right has gone on the attack, with responses ranging from jokes to allegations over the purported illegitimacy of the 2020 elections. Many have criticised the “mainstream media” for failing to report on these leaks.

However, many have minimised or discounted the consequences of the narrative. Weiss’s interpretation of the platform’s regulations was questioned by Kayvon Beykpour, the former head of product at Twitter, who tweeted that “You (Weiss) are defining any de-amplification as equating to shadow banning which is either a sloppy interpretation or intentionally deceptive.”

Akshat Ayush

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