Elon Musk offers solution to users being ‘shadowbanned’ after second ‘Twitter Files’ exposes company’s bias

Elon Musk’s upcoming change to the Twitter platform will directly identify whether conservatives — or anyone — has been shadowbanned, and what users can do to rectify that status, the CEO said on Thursday.

Musk said the new change would be coming in a “software update,” but did not say when users could expect the change to go live.

“Twitter is working on a software update that will show your true account status, so you know clearly if you’ve been shadowbanned, the reason why and how to appeal,” he wrote hours after sharing the latest release of the “Twitter Files.”

Tesla CEO Elon Muskl

Elon Musk, Tesla CEO, stands in the foundry of the Tesla Gigafactory during a press event.  ( Patrick Pleul/picture alliance via Getty Images / Getty Images)

Earlier on Thursday, Musk led the release of “Part Deux” of the “Twitter Files,” or internal documents including emails and other official communications that show how the company would “build blacklists” of certain users or tweets.

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The internal documents were shared with journalist Bari Weiss, who shared the contents Thursday.

“A new #TwitterFiles investigation reveals that teams of Twitter employees build blacklists, prevent disfavored tweets from trending, and actively limit the visibility of entire accounts or even trending topics—all in secret, without informing users,” Weiss said in a thread.

“Twitter once had a mission ‘to give everyone the power to create and share ideas and information instantly, without barriers.’ Along the way, barriers nevertheless were erected,” she added.

Weiss first identified Stanford University’s Dr. Jay Bhattacharya, a vocal critic of COVID lockdowns, as a victim of a shadowban.

“Twitter secretly placed him on a ‘Trends Blacklist,’ which prevented his tweets from trending,” Weiss reported.

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Weiss also highlighted how Fox News host Dan Bongino was a recipient of a “Search Blacklist.”

Twitter HQ

Twitter headquarters stands on 10th Street on November 4, 2022, in San Francisco, California. Twitter Inc. reportedly began laying off employees across its departments, as new owner Elon Musk is reportedly looking to cut around half of the company’s (David Odisho/Getty Images / Getty Images)

Weiss then recalled Twitter heads previously denying they performed such actions.

“In 2018, Twitter’s Vijaya Gadde (then Head of Legal Policy and Trust) and Kayvon Beykpour (Head of Product) said: ‘We do not shadow ban.’ They added: ‘And we certainly don’t shadow ban based on political viewpoints or ideology.’

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Gadde and Beykpour simply had another name for the action, Weiss reported, as Twitter executives and employees called the process of diminishing a person’s reach on the platform “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,” Weiss reported, citing a “senior Twitter employee.”

Elon Musk Twitter profile photo

Elon Musk’s Twitter account is displayed on the screen of an iPhone on April 26, 2022, in Paris, France. (Chesnot/Getty Images / Getty Images)

She added: “‘VF’ refers to Twitter’s control over user visibility. It used VF 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.”

These actions are taken against the account owners’ knowledge, something Musk’s latest action is hoping to change.

Musk confirmed in a later tweet that “some accounts on the right were suspended even when Twitter internally acknowledged that no rules were broken.”

The major reveal comes days after the initial installment of internal documents showed a glimpse at the company’s content moderation.

Musk shared the first “Twitter Files” with Substack journalist Matt Taibbi.

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According to the Musk-provided and Taibbi-shared information, Twitter’s ever-persistent content moderation was a “decision was made at the highest levels of the company, but without the knowledge of CEO Jack Dorsey, with former head of legal, policy and trust Vijaya Gadde playing a key role.”

The files showed some employees challenged the company’s targeted censoring.

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