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Top investigative journalist exposes Twitter’s global information war against its foes

Elon Musk has shaken up the Twitter ecosystem (Photo: IANS)

The second instalment of Elon Musk’s “Twitter Files” that were made public on Thursday night demonstrate how Twitter was on the frontline of a global information war, suppressing opinion that violated its own so-called “liberal” agenda.

The New York Post has carried a detailed report quoting independent journalist Bari Weiss. In a series of posts based on her investigation, Weiss points out how Twitter used what is called “shadow banning” to reduce the visibility of tweets coming from far-right users and others who questioned the globalist-left agenda.

Those who have been impacted by Twitter’s de facto censorship include conservative talk show host Dan Bongino, Stanford University’s anti-COVID lockdown advocate Dr. Jay Bhattacharya, and right-wing activist Charlie Kirk among others whose opinion was found politically inconvenient.

Significantly, the former New York Times and Wall Street Journal writer alleges that the blacklists were engineered “in secret” and “without informing users.”

“A new [Twitter Files] investigation reveals that teams of Twitter employees build blacklists, prevent disfavoured tweets from trending, and actively limit the visibility of entire accounts or even trending topics — all in secret, without informing users,” Weiss tweeted on Thursday.

Weiss points out that Dr. Bhattacharya’s account was flagged as being on a “trends blacklist”. She shared an image of his account from Twitter’s point-of-view with the yellow tag indicating the restriction.

“Take, for example, Stanford’s Dr. Jay Bhattacharya who argued that Covid lockdowns would harm children. Twitter secretly placed him on a ‘Trends Blacklist,’ which prevented his tweets from trending.”

The investigation flies in the face of assertions by top Twitter executives, including head of legal policy and trust Vijaya Gadde and head of product Kayvon Beykpour that the company does not “shadow ban” accounts. “We do not shadow ban,” Gadde and Beykpour said in 2018, according to Weiss.  “And we certainly don’t shadow ban based on political viewpoints or ideology.”

But Weiss’ investigation reveals that suppressing conservative voices is known internally as “Visibility Filtering” or “VF.”

“Think about visibility filtering as being a way for us to suppress what people see to different levels. It’s a very powerful tool,” a senior Twitter employee told Weiss.

“Visibility Filtering” allows the company to “block searches of individual users; to limit the scope of a particular tweet’s discoverability; to block select users’ posts from ever appearing on the ‘trending’ page; and from inclusion in hashtag searches,” according to Weiss.

“We control visibility quite a bit. And we control the amplification of your content quite a bit. And normal people do not know how much we do,” a Twitter engineer told Weiss.

Weiss found that the group responsible for deciding which accounts to blacklist was known as the Strategic Response Team – Global Escalation Team, or SRT-GET.

“It often handled up to 200 ‘cases’ a day,” according to Weiss.

But beyond SRT-GET, the secretive Site Integrity Policy, Policy Escalation Support team, or SIP-PES, was responsible for the most “politically sensitive decisions.”

“This secret group included Head of Legal, Policy, and Trust (Vijaya Gadde), the Global Head of Trust & Safety (Yoel Roth), subsequent CEOs Jack Dorsey and Parag Agrawal, and others,” according to Weiss.

Weiss’s tweets followed Friday’s jaw dropping revelations by independent journalist Matt Taibbi. Taibbi’s Twitter posts were promoted by new company owner Elon Musk as “what really happened with the Hunter Biden suppression story by Twitter.” Hunter Biden is the son of US President Joe Biden.

Taibbi reported he had uncovered the “extraordinary steps” Twitter took in response to The New York Post’s earlier scoop about Hunter Biden’s infamous laptop in October 2020, including “removing links and posting warnings that it may be ‘unsafe.’”

“They even blocked its transmission via direct message, a tool hitherto reserved for extreme cases, e.g., child pornography,” he wrote.

Taibbi said the decision was made behind the back of Twitter founder and then-CEO Jack Dorsey, with former general counsel Vijaya Gadde — who was reportedly fired by Musk when he took over in October — “playing a key role.”

On Tuesday, Musk announced that he’d fired Twitter deputy general counsel Jim Baker, a former top FBI lawyer, over his “possible role in suppression of information important to the public dialogue.”

Musk said he’d questioned Baker about Twitter’s response to the (Hunter Biden) laptop story and found his answers “unconvincing.”

Taibbi also tweeted that Baker was behind the delay Friday in releasing his “Twitter Files” tweets because he had been “vetting” the underlying material “without knowledge of the new management.”

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