A new undercover video from Project Veritas shows Twitter employees discussing new ways for the social media site to censor political speech that they dislike.
The video shows eight current or former Twitter employees explaining how they will employ “shadow banning” and algorithms to prevent political opponents from spreading their ideas on the platform.
“One strategy is to shadow ban so you have ultimate control,” said Abhinov Vadrevu, a former Twitter Software Engineer. “The idea of a shadow ban is that you ban someone but they don’t know they’ve been banned, because they keep posting and 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.”
Twitter Direct Messaging Engineer Pranay Singh said the shadow ban algorithms could be engineered to specifically target right-leaning content.
“Yeah you look for Trump, or America, and you have like five thousand keywords to describe a redneck,” Singh explained. “Then you look and parse all the messages, all the pictures, and then you look for stuff that matches that stuff.”
“I would say majority of it are for Republicans,” he confirmed.
Former Twitter Engineer Conrado Miranda confirmed in December that tools are already in place to censor pro-Trump and conservative content on the platform.
In fact, one former employee said that manually banning accounts was done based on the view point and discretion of review agents. Former Twitter Content Review Agent Mo Norai explained that the “unwritten rules” from the top allowed them to be tougher on pro-Trump content.
“Yeah, if they said this is: ‘Pro-Trump’ I don’t want it because it offends me, this, that. And I say I banned this whole thing, and it goes over here and they are like, ‘Oh you know what? I don’t like it too. You know what? Mo’s right, let’s go, let’s carry on, what’s next?'” Norai stated. “Twitter was probably about 90 percent Anti-Trump, maybe 99 percent Anti-Trump.”
But current employees said Twitter is exploring avenues to give them even more power to censor and ban political speech.
Olinda Hassan, a Policy Manager for Twitter’s Trust and Safety team explained that Twitter is working on a system to make sure “shitty people” don’t show up on people’s feeds.
Twitter Software Engineer Steven Pierre also claimed they are working on having a machine that will rate conversations that and immediately get rid of tweets that include cursing or come across as “aggressive.” Pierre describes it as banning “a way of talking.”