“Twitter Files” 2 discusses platform limitations on some accounts

  • Bari Weiss, conservative commentator, has just dropped “episode 2” of the “Twitter Files.” 
  • The new information dump was focused on content moderation.
  • Matt Taibbi, journalist, dropped the first installment Friday.

The “Twitter Files” part two on Thursday claimed to “reveal” a “secret” operation in which the platform limited the reach of certain accounts and posts — but Twitter’s practice of hiding some tweets hasn’t been a secret at all, and what she outlined sounds similar to a December 2 policy announced by Twitter owner Elon Musk.

Bari Weiss, conservative commentator and journalist, published the latest thread, hyped up by Twitter’s new owner Elon Musk, writing 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.” 

Twitter announced that it would hide certain tweets from search results in 2018. The Washington Post’s Will Oremus. TwitterThe company stated that it would be looking at how other people react to accounts to prevent them from posting tweets that “detract from” conversations.

Critics, and they were many, especially as prominent Republicans were impactedTwitter’s practice to limit certain tweets’ visibility was called “shadowbanning”. But Twitter disputed the characterizationIt stated that it did not like the term “shadowban”, noting that the tweets were not being removed on the platform but removed from search, making it more difficult to find them.

Weiss stated in her thread that Twitter’s Strategic Response Team – Global Escalation Team (known as SRT-GET) was responsible for deciding which users were eligible for “visibility filtering.”

“Think of visibility filtering like a way to suppress what people are seeing at different levels. It’s very powerful,” said a senior Twitter employee, per Weiss.

She said that Twitter’s Site Integrity Policy, Policy Escalation Support Team known as “SIP”-PES was charged with making the most sensitive decisions. Weiss described it as a group consisting of top executives.

She named several conservative accounts she claimed were affected. Weiss didn’t add any context to her thread about why these accounts were affected or if Twitter rules were broken or not. I made the call to add them on search or trending blacklists.

Weiss’s description of Twitter’s internal moderation policies seems to be in line with Musk’s recently-announced approach to content moderating on the site. “Freedom of speech does not mean freedom of reach.” Negativity should & will get less reach than positivity,” he tweetedDecember 2,

Insider’s Kali HayesThis week, it was reported that Weiss was one of the new cohort of colleagues that CEO Elon Musk was bringing to Twitter. Two people told Insider that she was granted access to Twitter’s employee systems and added to Slack. She also received a company laptop. However, Weiss, a former columnist for the New York Times, is not believed to be a current employee of Twitter. 

She said that several reporters from Weiss’s outlet The Free Press were also involved with reporting the story and had “broader and expanding” access via Twitter files.

“The only condition that we agreed to was that the material be published first on Twitter,” she wrote.

Musk followed up by announcing that “Twitter” was working on a software upgrade that will display your true account status. This will allow you to see clearly if you have been shadowbanned and the reasons why.

Thursday’s thread was second such installation.

The Thursday tweet thread was almost a week after that of independent journalist Matt Taibbi. wroteTwitter received and granted content moderation requests from the Trump White House and Joe Biden’s 2020 presidential campaign. On his SubstackTaibbi stated that in order for the story to be covered, he “had” to agree to “certain conditions”, but didn’t specify what those conditions were.

According to internet archives, Biden requested that at least some posts be removed nude photosThat would have violated Twitter’s terms of service in accordance with its non-consensual nuclearity policy. Taibbi didn’t include any examples of White House requests.

Taibbi also stated the content moderation was a benefit to Democrats. citing campaign donations made by Twitter staffHowever, they didn’t provide any evidence that tweets were removed even though they didn’t violate the terms.

Musk retweeted Taibbi’s initial threadAdd, “Here are we!” Two popcorn emojis are also included. He teased“Episode 2” was the second installment of the series. It announced on Friday that the next installment would be available, but then followed that announcement up with:Looks like we will need another day or so.”

Despite, Musk’s assertions, Twitter’s actions were not in violation of the First Amendment because “Twitter is not a state actor and the First Amendment applies only to state actors,” Doron Kalir, a professor at Cleveland-Marshall College of Law, previously told Insider.

He explained that the First Amendment says “Congress shall not make any law… abridging freedom of speech or of the press.” Twitter, which is not considered to be the government but an independent company, does not fall under this First Amendment. 

Kalir referred to the 2020 case as saying, “Federal Courts in the United State have ruled repeatedly, and as recently at 2020, that those platforms are not state actors. Therefore, they are not the government and the government can not restrict them in any manner.” Prager University v. Google LLC, in which YouTube was ruled not to be a state actor by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.

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