Is this meant to be sensible censorship in a free-thinking world?’

January 22, 2018

THOUGHT POLICE: “What kind of world do we live in where computer engineers are the gatekeepers of the way people talk? This investigation brings forth information of profound public importance that educates people about how free they really are to express their views on-line.” – Director of Project Veritas James O’Keefe. Picture by Gage Skidmore.

HIDDEN STRATEGY: “Our strategy is to shadow ban so that you have ultimate control. The idea of a shadow ban is that you ban someone but they don’t know they’ve been banned, because they keep posting, but no one sees their content.” – Former software engineer Abhinav Vadrevu on shadow banning of conservative accounts to PV undercover journalist.

 

SETTING TRENDS: “Twitter is run by an advanced set of algorithms – tools used to filter through vast amounts of data or in this case – tweets. Their algorithms block, mute and prioritize everything on the Twitter platform and they are growing smarter by the day.” – Project Veritas on Twitter.

 

 

 

HAS a social media platform been using its platform to censor and delete accounts that come into direct conflict with its unwritten political agenda?

James O’Keefe of Project Veritas explained why Twitter was interfering with the direct messaging service of President Donald Trump and other prominent conservative voices and so he sent undercover reporters to their headquarters in San Francisco to see if this was true.

Covert footage from his staff with Twitter employees dropping their guard in conversation, seem to suggest that they were “shadow banning” accounts they found to press their buttons.

‘Proof comes out of their own mouths’

O’Keefe said: “Although Twitter presents itself as politically neutral, its culture behind closed doors is one of blatant censorship, systematic bias and political targeting. Many suspected this to be case, and we can now give you the proof out of their own Twitter mouths.”

As a former content review agent, Mo Norai gives some indicators about what actually goes on behind the scenes of the social media giant and his actual role was to flag content, viewed as harmful, offensive or in violation of Twitter policy and ban it if it was but this role seemed to be particularly open to abuse.

Norai suggests he and co-workers were within their rights to suspend accounts purely because they disagreed with the content, for example if an account was a supporter of the UK Conservatives or the US Republicans.

‘It offends me so let’s ban it’

“On stuff like that it was more discretion on your view point, I guess how you felt about a particular matter. Yeah, if they said this is pro-Trump, I don’t want it because it offends me, And I say I banned this whole thing, and it goes over here and you’re like. Oh you know what? I don’t like it too. You know what? Mo’s right, let it go.

Norai suggests Twitter’s content review was more than a safeguard against “hate speech” and a tool to promote a political agenda.

‘Lots of unwritten liberal rules

“There is a lot of unwritten rules, and being that we’re in San Francisco, we’re in California, a very liberal, blue state. As a company you can’t really say it because it will make you look bad, but behind closed doors there are lots of rules. Like, hey, you’ve got to do it this way, or something like that. It was never written, it was more said.”

‘Banned without notification’

Anyone who has an account and falls foul of the content filters, could be “shadow banned” without the user knowing it. It means blocking a user from a social media platform without informing them. Tweets will still appear to their followers but won’t appear on any search results or anywhere else on Twitter.

O’Keefe said: “It is an effective way of deterring Nigerian scammers or on-line fraudsters, but if abused shadow banning is dangerous.”

Former software engineer for Twitter Abhinav Vadrevu is caught revealing the secrets to Project Veritas’ undercover reporter. This gentleman’s twitter feed is not accessible for public viewing.

“You can just sort of turn off all the features for them. They will see everything, it’s all there. You can like it , re-tweet it or whatever.

‘You can post but no ones sees your content’

“Our strategy is to shadow ban so that you have ultimate control. The idea of a shadow ban is that you ban someone but they don’t know they’ve been banned, because they keep posting, but no one sees their content.

“So they just think that no one is engaging with their content, when in reality, no one is seeing it. At the end of the day no one else interacts. No one else sees what you’re doing.

‘Shadow banning is risky and unethical’

“All the data is thrown away, it is risky though. There is a lot of bad press if people figure out that you’re shadow banning them. It’s unethical in some way, you know.

O’Keefe said: “Twitter is run by an advanced set of algorithms – tools used to filter through vast amounts of data or in this case – tweets. Their algorithms block, mute and prioritize everything on the Twitter platform and they are growing smarter by the day.”

Last year in June, this website found how search engines like Google and Bing appeared to be manipulating algorithms during the General Election giving more favourable search results for Jeremy Corbyn than the Prime Minister Theresa May and former Lib Dem leader Tim Farron.

‘Most accounts targeted are conservative’

When asked by the Project Veritas undercover reporter to Direct messaging editor Pranav Singh whether algorithms are targeted against Conservative or Republican account users, he says “I would say the majority of it are for Republicans.”

In a devastating turn of words O’Keefe brings to the fore in this video concludes the dangers for a free-thinking world if these anomalies were allowed to proceed unchecked.

“What kind of world do we live in where computer engineers are the gatekeepers of the way people talk? This investigation brings forth information of profound public importance that educates people about how free they really are to express their views on-line.”

  • THE full unedited footage on which this article is based upon can be found here and should be read and viewed as such

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