The second installment of Elon Musk’s so-called “Twitter Files” shed light on the company’s practices of secretly “blacklisting” certain tweets and users in a practice that one expert believes is “one step away” from George Orwell’s Thought Police from the famed novel “1984.”
“Now, when people say, ‘Hey, I got banned for this, or I got taken off for that or this got taken down, and I can’t prove it,’ now we know that they’re not lying,” Datagrade founder and CEO Joe Toscano told Fox News Digital.
Journalist Bari Weiss tweeted a thread last week revealing that Twitter “employees build blacklists, prevent disfavored tweets from trending, and actively limit the visibility of entire accounts or even trending topics—all in secret, without informing users,” and exposed that the common term “shadow banning” was referred to by Twitter executives and employees as “Visibility Filtering” or “VF.”
Toscano, a former Google consultant and internet data guru who was featured in the popular Netflix documentary “The Social Dilemma,” believes the term “shadow banning” has been mainstreamed and is no longer something that can be dismissed as a wacky conspiracy theory.
ELON MUSK’S SECOND INSTALLMENT OF ‘TWITTER FILES’ REVEALS ‘SECRET BLACKLISTS,’ BARI WEISS REPORTS
“Shadow banning is the act of banning an account, or taking things down, without necessarily any strict definition as to why it had happened,” Toscano said. “This is something that we had seen through the Twitter Files, that there were acts happening on both sides of the aisle, pulling down content across Twitter that was deemed illegitimate or not what Twitter wanted on their platform, as opposed to necessarily exactly prescribed by the rules.”
Toscano, who authored the 2018 book “Automating Humanity,” feels Musk’s reveal could result in significant trouble for former Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey and other big tech executives who have long insisted their platforms don’t shadow band.
“It’s obvious now, at this point in history, that every platform does it in one shape or form or another. What we’ve seen through the files that have been disclosed is that this is an extensive operation that’s happened for quite some time across Twitter and that it’s affected a lot of people,” Toscano said.
“People have been complaining about it and no way to explain it, and that’s the most dangerous part about what’s been happening,” Toscano continued. “People don’t have a way to fight this… they just disappear. The thought is disrupted, the thought is erased, and we are not allowed to fight it because we don’t even know how or why it happened. And those people can’t make any noise about it because now they’re not on the platform. It’s one step away from George Orwell’s Thought Police.”
OUSTED TWITTER COUNSEL JIM BAKER VETTED ‘TWITTER FILES’ WITHOUT ELON MUSK’S KNOWLEDGE, MATT TAIBBI REVEALS
Ultimately, Toscano thinks Musk’s Twitter Files should bring awareness to an issue that needs to be discussed on a larger scale.
“We see it in Twitter, we literally are looking at the files right now. But you can be confident this is happening across every other platform,” he said. “I think it’s time for the government to ask for reports from other platforms to validate that they are not [shadow banning], and if they are, there should be some kind of action taken to help protect people’s freedom of speech.”
The conversation surrounding the issue doesn’t appear to be concluding anytime soon, as people will bicker over the rights of an independently owned company compared to the First Amendment for the foreseeable future. One aspect that Toscano feels everyone should agree on is that government officials, and candidates for public office, shouldn’t dictate who can speak openly on social media platforms. This was put under a microscope during the first batch of Twitter Files when it was revealed that a Twitter executive once said they “handled” a request from Joe Biden’s 2020 campaign team.
“You have government officials who are asking for certain things to be taken down and the platform obliging,” he said. “That is very problematic.”
Musk confirmed Friday that political candidates in the United States and abroad were subject to “shadow-banning” by Twitter while running for office or seeking re-election.
Last week, Musk also said that upcoming changes to Twitter’s platform would identify whether anyone had been “shadow-banned,” as well as what they could do to rectify that status.
“Twitter is working on a software update that will show your true account status, so you know clearly if you’ve been shadowbanned, the reason why and how to appeal,” he tweeted.
Fox News’ Joseph A. Wulfsohn and Brandon Gillespie contributed to this report.
Read the full article here