Twitter’s newest way to attack and limit the reach of the Republican Party has been found, and is being described by VICE News.
The social media site is using “a technique known as ‘shadow banning” to limit the visibility of prominent Republicans in search results,” the news site reports its own research found.
It explains Twitter calls it a “side effect” of its work to improve discourse.
But the effect is that “Republican Party chair Ronna McDaniel, several conservative Republican congressmen, and Donald Trump Jr.’s spokesman no longer appear in the auto-populated drop-down search box on Twitter.”
The report said it’s the same maneuver Twitter uses against “prominent racists to limit their visibility.”
The profiles, the report said, continue to appear when conducting a full search, but “not in the more convenient and visible drop-down bar.”
“The notion that social media companies would suppress certain political points of view should concern every American,” McDaniel told VICE News in a statement. “Twitter owes the public answers to what’s really going on.”
The report said there apparently are no Democrats being subjected to the same treatment.
“McDaniel’s counterpart, Democratic Party chair Tom Perez, and liberal members of Congress – including Reps. Maxine Waters, Joe Kennedy III, Keith Ellison, and Mark Pocan – all continue to appear in drop-down search results. Not a single member of the 78-person Progressive Caucus faces the same situation in Twitter’s search,” the report said.
Twitter responded to the report, VICE said, with, “We are aware that some accounts are not automatically populating in our search box and shipping a change to address this.”
Twitter had revealed months ago that it was going to punish “troll-like behaviors.”
But the report said, “Twitter’s troll hunt, however, has ensnared some of the most prominent Republicans in the country. Type in the names of McDaniel, conservative members of Congress like Reps. Mark Meadows, Jim Jordan, and Matt Gaetz, and Trump Jr.’s spokesman Andrew Surabian, for example, and Twitter’s drop-down search bar does not show their profiles. The search menu also does not display the verified profile of Rep. Devin Nunes of California, only his unverified one that he seldom uses to post.”
The effect, VICE explained, is that Twitter’s actions are limiting the visibility of conservative individuals.
However, not all Republicans are being affected, the report said, citing Rep. Steve King.
VICE’s Alex Thompson commented, “Even if the shadow banning is more of a bug than a feature, the demotion of these prominent Republicans could be a political liability for the social media company.”
He pointed out conservatives have been claiming “for months” that Big Tech companies are censoring them.
Hearings on the topic have been held by the House Judiciary Committee.
Explained Thompson, “Democrats, for their part, have largely rolled their eyes at conservative claims of discrimination. At Diamond and Silk’s hearing in April, the committee’s top-ranking Democrat Jerrold Nadler called the idea of Big Tech censorship of conservatives a ‘hoax’ and a ‘tired narrative of imagined victimhood’ that was eclipsing other priorities like election security and online privacy.”