Yes: Is Twitter shadow banning accounts?

Today, the entire Twitter network was taken over by hackers who then took over perhaps thousands of accounts and used them in a mostly ineffective digital currency scam.

As a result, we are learning a bit more about Twitter’s internals – and that prior claims they do not shadow ban people may be false.

A social media “shadow ban” allows the user to think their content is being visible to others – when the service is actually hiding their content. Their posts are visible only to the poster – so the poster is unaware that they are being censored.

Twitter previously said they do not shadow ban people. However, hackers have sent screen captures of the Twitter administrative tool they took over today – and it appears to show the ability to shadow ban users.

This image has now been shared widely.

The tool appears to have an option to block tweets – or an account – from appearing on search results – see “Search Blacklist” and to block the item from appearing in a trending list. The company also said it was eliminating racist language such as “Blacklist” from internal functions – obviously, they have not done so.

“Bounced” reportedly moves one’s tweets to the bottom of your follower’s news feeds – so your tweets will not be seen.

Is the screen shot genuine? We can’t know but there are reports that accounts which retweeted this image earlier today, were terminated by Twitter (and that appears to be true). Later, many people reported they had shared the above image and their tweet magically disappeared.

This looks horrible for Twitter. This hacked admin tool also reportedly gave hackers access to all private “Direct Messages” sent through Twitter.

In a November, many years ago, I posted to Twitter screen snapshots of actual ACA health insurance premiums, taken directly from HealthCare.gov. They showed that in the unsubsidized market, some consumers were charged $2,000 to $4,000 per month for high deductible “affordable” insurance plans. Indeed, in 2020, a 64 year old married couple living in Wyoming with about a $68,000 pre-tax income was above the subsidy available level -yet the only Silver policy available to them cost almost $50,000 per year! This was a simple, verifiable fact but it appeared to put my account in the dog house.

Within about two days, I stopped seeing new followers on my account. Previously, I saw about ten new followers every week – and just like that, new followers vanished. Not one new follower for more than a month, and then just one new follower. Since then, my followers started to slowly drop – I assume mostly due to Twitter terminating “fake accounts” that followed everyone. However, this looked very much like my account had been put into a shadow ban by Twitter.

Around the same time, I had a blog that automatically cross posted to a Facebook page. For some time, that page was developing a growing number of followers and receiving a modest amount of interaction. Then all that dried up. No new followers, no new interaction. After months of this I noticed the statistics that counted post views – the only views were those that I made, typically one view on the post. All other views had vanished. I created a separate account and verified that Facebook had shadow banned my page.

In that case, I believe Facebook erroneously thought the posts were spam because they were automatically posted from the blog, rather than me logging in to FB. I could manually log in and post the content and then it would appear.

That experience confirmed, however, that Facebook can and does shadow ban pages and people.

Back to Twitter – from the above, it appears that Twitter is indeed shadow banning and censors tweets and users, and may also be censoring content that offends Twitter’s political sensibilities.

I will wait to see how Twitter responds to this however it is likely I will be deleting my Twitter account. It also very likely that Twitter will come under heavy handed Federal regulation – particularly after telling Congress they do not censor or shadow ban tweets or accounts.

Twitter even says so on their help page: