Twitter CEO Elon Musk announced Friday that a new software update was in the works to inform users if their accounts has been “shadowbanned.” The new feature would explain why a user had been shadowbanned, meaning a profile is difficult to find or your posts are invisible to other Twitter users, even followers, and would provide instructions to submit an appeal, he said.
Musk tweeted about the new feature after conservative commentator Bari Weiss released part two of the Twitter Files on Friday. The newest document dump focuses on “Twitter’s Secret Blacklists”—how Twitter limited the visibility of several high-profile conservative accounts.
Musk did not confirm when the shadowbanning feature will be rolled out, but in a Twitter post on Thursday, he wrote, “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.”
Weiss claimed the internal Twitter documents—dubbed “The Twitter Files, Part Two,”—revealed a “secret” process the company used to limit accounts, mentioning the anti-LGBTQ Twitter account, Libs of TikTok as one example. She claimed “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.” The concept of shadowbanning first cropped up in 2018 when reports surfaced that Twitter was secretly shadowbanning Republicans, which Twitter co-founder and then-CEO Jack Dorsey denied.
Musk confirmed the new shadowbanning alert feature is in the works shortly after Instagram implemented a similar software update that shows users with professional accounts if they are eligible to appear in recommendations. It also allows users to request Instagram re-review their content if they believe it made a mistake.
The new feature comes as Musk has called himself a “free speech absolutist” and reinstated nearly 12,000 formerly banned or suspended accounts.
Weiss identified Stanford University’s Dr. Jay Bhattacharya, an outspoken critic of the Covid-19 lockdowns, as one account that Twitter previously de-amplified. “Twitter secretly placed [Bhattacharya] on a ‘Trends Blacklist,’ which prevented his tweets from trending,” Weiss reported, adding that Fox News host Dan Bongino was put on a “Search Blacklist,” meaning his account would not popup if a user searched for it.
“Twitter once had a mission ‘to give everyone the power to create and share ideas and information instantly, without barriers,’” Weiss wrote. “Along the way, barriers nevertheless were erected.”
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