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Twitter Files: Unanswered questions remain after ‘shadowban’ revelations

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The second part of the Twitter Files revelations dropped on Thursday night, revealing the social media giant did, in fact, engage in the suppression of conservatives and skeptics of lockdowns during the onset of the coronavirus pandemic, but questions remain about the extent of the suppression.

‘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,’ journalist Bari Weiss revealed in a Twitter thread on Thursday, referring to the suppression as ‘shadow-banning.’ 

Several conservative users, including Stanford University’s Dr. Jay Bhattacharya — a longstanding opponent of a COVID groupthink during the pandemic who expressed opposition to lockdowns — and Fox News’ Dan Bongino were named in the files as having been placed on the site’s secret blacklists.

‘Twitter denied that it does such things,’ Weiss noted. ‘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.’’

However, questions remain about the extent of the suppression and whether left-wing accounts faced similar restrictions. It is currently unknown just how many accounts have been subject to what Twitter calls ‘visibility filtering.’ 

”Think about visibility filtering as being a way for us to suppress what people see to different levels. It’s a very powerful tool,’ one senior Twitter employee told us,’ Weiss tweeted. 

”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. All without users’ knowledge.’

Twitter did not return Fox News Digital’s inquiries about the extent of ‘visibility filtering,’ as well as the partisan breakdown of the practice. 

Bongino reacted the revelations, tweeting, ‘We ALWAYS knew we were a target of the Twitter suppression machine. ALWAYS. Yet liberals insisted it was another ‘conspiracy theory.’ Tonight is vindication, yet I expect no apologies from liberals. They live to abuse power and they’ll make no apologies for doing so.’

Fox News Digital’s Joseph A. Wulfsohn contributed reporting.

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