Twitter’s blacklists and whitelists

There is no doubt that Twitter’s new boss, Elon Musk, has lifted the doormat that hid the censorship. It’s a real soap opera. Journalist Bari Weiss has taken over from Matt Taibbi and pokes her nose into the second part of the social network’s black files.

Musk claims he has allowed “unfettered access” to old internal network documents. “I don’t control the narrative. There was obviously a lot of vetoing and suppression of information, including things that affected the election,” he says.

Twitter’s lawyer, who was himself a former FBI lawyer, Jim Baker, had audited and even censored the first batch of the social network’s files, “without the new management being informed”. Musk announced that he had fired him.

The interest in the archives is focused on how to create candidates and manufacture elections to suit the highest bidder. “Twitter was acting as an arm of the Democratic National Committee,” Musk said.

There were blacklists and whitelists. It was about spreading the content of some and covering up the content of the competition. The platform limited the reach of the messages of various political figures using “powerful tools” without users being aware of it.

In 2018 Twitter’s ringleaders denied these practices. Vijaya Gadde and Kayvon Beykpour said that “we did not apply shadow banning based on political or ideological views”. They were only “visibility filters”, a way to amplify or suppress what users read. “We control the visibility enough. And we control the amplification of content a little bit. And users don’t know what we’re doing,” a network engineer explained.

The platform used “visibility filters” to block users’ searches, limit the reach of a post or prevent posts from trending. The decisions were not made by anyone in the moderation team, but by the Strategic Response and Global Escalation Group (SRT-GET), which dealt with up to 200 cases a day.

There was another team of censors, the Site Integrity Policy and Policy Escalation Support (SIP-PES), which included Jack Dorsey, Parag Agrawal and Yoel Roth, as well as the aforementioned Vijaya Gadde. This team reviewed and censored every single content of the blacklisted accounts.

The pretexts for censorship are always the same. They usually hover around “hate speech” like flies around shit. However, a note from the SIP-PES team acknowledges that an account is not always suspended for this reason.

Sometimes the head of the moderators, Yoel Roth, used to demand further “investigation” of certain accounts, both to ban and to lift bans. The moderators had become the digital police of the network.

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