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The second part of the Twitter Files reveals the ‘visibility filter’ used at the highest levels to ‘suppress what people see’


Bari Weiss, the founder and publisher of The Free Press, published the second part of the Twitter files on Thursday night, titled the post “Secret Twitter Blacklists,” which leaked the visibility of user content.

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“Twitter was once on a mission to ‘give everyone the power to create and share ideas and information instantly, without barriers,” Weiss tweeted. “Along the way, however, barriers were erected.”

She said Dr Jay Bhattacharya of Stanford he argued that COVID lockdowns would harm children, and as a result Twitter “secretly” put him on a “Trending Blacklist”, preventing his tweets from trending. Bhattacharya did not respond to requests for additional information about his knowledge of the blacklist on Thursday.

Other users who were blacklisted included talk show host and Fox News contributor Dan Bongino and conservative activist Charlie Kirk.

Twitter denied that it blacklists people, according to Weiss, and in 2018, Twitter’s Vijaya Gadde, the then head of legal policy and trust, along with Kayvon Beykpour, head of product, said: “We don’t hide the ban. .. and certainly don’t do a shadow ban based on political views or ideologies.”

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Twitter’s then-CEO Jack Dorsey made a similar statement on Twitter on July 26, 2018, adding, “We rank tweets by default to make Twitter more immediately relevant (which can be turned off).”

While they didn’t admit to the “shadow ban,” Weiss said executives and employees use the term “visibility filter.”

“Think of visibility filtering as a way to suppress what people see at different levels. It’s also very powerful,” Weiss said, a senior Twitter employee said.

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Visibility filtering is Twitter’s control over user visibility, Weiss tweeted, and using the switch to block individual user searches, limited the scope of a particular tweet’s visibility; blocked posts from certain users from ever appearing on the “trending” page; and blocked them from hashtag searches, without the user’s knowledge.

“We control visibility quite a bit,” admitted a Twitter engineer, and two Twitter employees confirmed Weiss. “And we pretty much control the amplification of their content. And normal people don’t know how much we do.”

Twitter also created the Strategic Response Team – Global Escalation Team, or SRT-GET, which handled up to 200 cases per day to decide whether to limit the reach certain users had.

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Weiss said there was another level beyond that, called Site Integrity Policy, Policy Escalation Support, or SIP-PES.

The SIP-PES included Gadde, Yoel Roth, who served as global director of trust and safety, and subsequent CEOs Jack Dorsey and Parag Agrawal.

This group made the “most politically sensitive decisions,” Weiss said.

“Think high, controversial follower count,” said one Twitter employee, adding that there was no ticket or anything for these decisions.

Weiss also posted internal messages from Slack about the company’s ability to restrict the visibility of tweets.

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“The assumption behind much of what we’ve implemented is that if exposure to, for example, misinformation directly causes harm, we should use solutions that reduce exposure, and limiting the spread/virality of content is a good way to do it,” Roth said. “We’ve got Jack on board with implementing this for civic integrity in the near term, but we’ll need to make a stronger case for including this in our policy remediation repertoire, especially for other policy domains.”





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