Thursday, December 2, 2021

Yes Twitter shadow bans (why Twitter is toxic)

A pathological paternalistic authoritarian and Nurse Ratched
Previously news came from reporters on scene with access to satellites and giant video cameras. Now that every citizen is a videographer, ever-present at all scenes, instantaneously able to communicate through internet access, the new frontier for breaking news is social media. With Twitter leading this revolution (for now), it must come with an incredible power to shape public opinion and a sense of responsibility to ensure public safety. It’s clear Twitter as a company has an ideological slant. Jack Dorsey himself admitted this on Joe Rogan’s podcast, stating conservatives at his company are afraid to speak up. With Dorsey stepping down as CEO and new rules requiring permission for media use, there’s a strong chance the goal is censorship and to further their ability to shape news and narratives.

Does Twitter shadow ban?

Look up “Does Twitter shadow ban?” and this article comes up:

Setting the record straight on shadow banning - Twitter Blog
Jul 26, 2018

“We do rank tweets and search results. We do this because Twitter is most useful when it’s immediately relevant.”

Translation: we decide for you what’s useful and have a ranking system of questionable practices.

It continues...

“We must also address bad-faith actors who intend to manipulate or detract from healthy conversation.”

Translation: we shadow ban. Again this doesn’t say spam bots or Russian spies. So who decides what constitutes a bad faith actor or someone who “detract[s] from healthy conversation,” or what healthy conversation even entails? Calling for healthy conversation is innately political, certainly you could not argue it’s apolitical. Memes and shit-posting are the junk food of internet dialogue, rarely healthy, yet I would see no reason to censor or otherwise curtail them. I’m confused by people who can vent their opinions publicly online to theoretically billions of people and are surprised when some of the reactions are pointed or uncouth. I’m surprised when tech companies believe it’s at all possible to try to shape billions of conversations in real-time and reasonably understand their context, tone, or irony. It’s clearly a problem you can’t address without making worse.

A bad faith actor is decided by:

“2. What actions you take on Twitter (e.g. who you follow, who you retweet, etc)”

“3. How other accounts interact with you (e.g. who mutes you, who follows you, who retweets you, who blocks you, etc)”

So get this, they don’t shadow ban, but they do heavily reduce your visibility in a ranking system from being seen based on the people you follow and who you like. Of course, you might also get this treatment if you are followed by someone who is a “bad faith actor” against your will. This is also the case if you’re ignored or blocked.

They act as if this is complicated. You don’t need a complex algorithm. Most popular, newest, oldest, random (+ your convoluted AI shadowbanning system). From there, delete spam and anything unlawful. If you don’t want swearing, put a filter for it that can be turned off. You don’t get to decide who is acting in bad faith, not without ruining your platform. What does this even mean. Can you not have a bad day, a snide or sarcastic comment, a temperamental disposition? Can you be anything but positive? Can you be extraordinarily negative if you have the right political leanings?

It’s a big deal. If you get banned on Twitter you lose access and the ability to interact with politicians, police, and emergency services.

In addition to them admitting it, here’s more hardcore due diligence:

Many posts have a “show more replies” button even if the thread only has a couple responses. The responses often include aggressive language or references to harsh topics like pedophilia. Regardless if it is relevant to the original thread, these are put into a quarantined area, and within this is yet another layer called, “show additional replies, including those that may contain offensive content.”

Why is Twitter hostile?

My theory is the two are related. There’s already bluechecks and follower counts to give the famous an amplification of their words. In addition to this, the masses of “voiceless” people go not only unheard, many are actively silenced. By being labeled a bad faith actor, their words suppressed by algorithms informed by political opinions, potentially furthering their alienation and creating a reactive desire to dig their heels in. Its simply an incredibly cruel thing to do to give people the impression of a voice or participation, left to wonder why even their innocuous observations inspire no response. I imagine this is done: to protect celebrities and persons of power, out of paternalism, to dictate narratives, political aims and “healthy conversations,” and to please advertisers. A website with an emphasis on celebrity and status, fomenting an increasingly unhinged group of the shadow“ranked,” where conversation is already limited in length, is a recipe for the horror show it is now.

What is the fix?

Firstly, this is not going to happen. It would be like expecting the NRA to go woke. But, stop trying to fix it. Crazy people are a self-correcting problem. They are ignored naturally like they are living dick pill advertisements. Make the censorship an optional setting, make all public comments visible to everyone (with blocks focusing on interaction). What will happen is eventually decentralized social media. In the meantime, Twitter will continue to be the place where you get mega e-points for seeming virtuous rather than being it.

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