Twitter Isn’t ‘Shadow Banning’ Republicans but Trump Is Trying to Force It to Favor Conservatives
Twitter Is Not ‘Shadow Banning’ Conservatives
‘Shadow Banning’ Explained
Trump and Trump-Supporting Republicans Join in False Claims
It was the morning of a day ending in “y” so naturally the President of the United States was tweeting out his current frustrations and lies. Thursday morning President Donald Trump falsely told his supporters and the world that Twitter is “SHADOW BANNING” prominent Republicans. He promised his administration will be investigating “this discriminatory and illegal practice at once!”
(Twitter is not “shadow banning” conservatives, the practice itself is not discriminatory, and definitely not illegal. More on this, including an explanation of what shadow banning really is, below.)
TRUMP CAMPAIGN and GOP JUMP ON FALSE ‘SHADOW BANNING’ CLAIM
Less that three hours later, Trump’s campaign manager Brad Parscale took to Twitter, asking the company’s founder, who now serves as the social media giant’s Director and CEO, to “control” liberals who oppose President Trump. Like his boss, Parscale has not shown interest in wooing Democrats or independents, but in attacking them and anyone else not part of the cult of Trump. So he felt comfortable claiming those who have not embraced his boss are “punch drunk on conspiracy.”
Hey @jack you want to fix something based on fake news?
Focus on trying to control “Trump Derangement Syndrome”, because these people are punch drunk on conspiracy.
— Brad Parscale (@parscale) July 26, 2018
So now the top two people in the Trump re-election campaign, within hours of each other, have targeted Twitter in an effort to make the social media giant – just as Facebook is under fire from conservatives and starting Wednesday is seeing its stock plunge off a cliff.
But wait, there’s more.
Donald Trump Jr. was only too happy to retweet his father’s lies, broadening it to claim that Twitter is somehow banning conservatives and its harming small businesses “for being conservative leaning.”
So glad people are getting involved fighting this nonsense. I can’t tell you the number of small accounts and small business social accounts that have said they’re getting hit by these bans simply for being conservative leaning. https://t.co/aRQ8FJ0hOD
— Donald Trump Jr. (@DonaldJTrumpJr) July 26, 2018
Again, this is all false.
Minutes later, The Chairwoman of the Republican National Committee jumped onboard, claiming conservatives’ Twitter accounts are being “buried.”
Even before Vice News reported on conservative accounts being buried, @parscale and I wrote to Twitter about concerns over bias on their platform. Two months later, they still haven’t responded to us. https://t.co/eJYFPykbtF
— Ronna McDaniel (@GOPChairwoman) July 26, 2018
Also in on the false banning of conservatives claim is Congressman and full-time conspiracy theorist Rep. Matt Gaetz:
Hey @Twitter, why are you specifically targeting me, as well as Reps. Mark Meadows, Jim Jordan, & Devin Nunes to be #Shadowbanned??
Proof found in @VICE article. CC: @RepMarkMeadows @Jim_Jordan @DevinNunes https://t.co/SFHI1e030W
— Rep. Matt Gaetz (@RepMattGaetz) July 25, 2018
WHAT EXACTLY IS GOING ON?
On Wednesday VICE published an article claiming Twitter was “shadow banning” conservatives.
The original title was, “Twitter is ‘shadow banning’ prominent Republicans like the RNC chair and Trump Jr.’s spokesman.”
It was, at best, a totally false use of the term shadow banning.
How confident in the article is the author, Alex Thompson?
On Twitter (ironically,) he admitted he knew conservatives would use the article “in bad faith,” which they have. Here’s Thompson responding to a New York Times technology reporter, who Thompson calls “one of the best reporters around”:
Politicians may quote this story in bad faith. They probably will. That’s what politicians often do. But the story is true and newsworthy. You’re one of the best reporters around though so perhaps I will realize you were right.
— Alex Thompson (@AlxThomp) July 25, 2018
SHADOW BANNING, EXPLAINED
So, like most people, all this while you’ve probably been asking yourself, “What is shadow banning?”
A very simple explanation is this: When a troll or someone who is violating the terms of service on a social media platform goes too far, some social media platform administrators opt to “shadow ban” them. Famous for this is Reddit.
What happens is the troll or TOS violator continues to post, and to them they think their posts are still being seen, but in reality they are the only ones who see their posts.
It’s sneaky but effective. It effectively prevents the person from just opening up a new account and starting their bad behavior all over again, and it protects the larger community from their actions.
That is not what VICE claimed is happening.
VICE falsely posited that because some Republicans’ names were not immediately coming up in Twitter’s search box – the drop-down box that suggests or auto-completes your entry – they were being “shadow banned.”
As we’ve just explained, that’s not even close to what shadow banning is.
And VICE also falsely claimed that Donald Trump Jr.’s spokesperson is a “prominent Republican,” which is ludicrous.
VICE even admits not everyone agrees with their theory, by including this:
“This isn’t evidence of a pattern of anti-conservative bias since some Republicans still appear and some don’t. This just appears to be a cluster of conservatives who have been affected,” said New York Law School Professor Ari Ezra Waldman, who testified at the House Judiciary Committee’s April hearing on social media filtering and is the author of Privacy as Trust: Information Privacy for an Information Age.
Waldman does say Twitter has software that minimizes accounts.
But VICE soon changed the title. It now reads: “Twitter appears to have fixed ‘shadow ban’ of prominent Republicans like the RNC chair and Trump Jr.’s spokesman.”
In case you’re still not convinced this is all a bunch of hooey:
New York Magazine’s Brian Feldman on Wednesday wrote a lengthy piece titled, “Twitter Is Not ‘Shadow Banning’ Republicans.”
ThinkProgress: “No, conservatives aren’t being ‘shadow banned’ from Twitter.”
Image by Esther Vargas via Flickr and a CC license
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QAnon Cultists Pledge Loyalty to Matt Gaetz Despite Learning of His Underage Sex Trafficking Probe
Some backers of the QAnon conspiracy theory are proudly sticking with Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) even after learning he’s facing a sex trafficking investigation involving a 17-year-old girl.
Twitter account @pinealdecalcify, which follows QAnon Telegram channels, has found that many Q devotees believe that Gaetz is being set up by the feds as a way to cover up for Democrats’ purported global sex trafficking ring.
“The SMEARING of MAGA patriots has no end!” declared one QAnon devotee.
“Not surprising for the deep state FBI,” wrote another. “Hang in there Matt.”
Many Q believers also raised suspicions about the fact that Gaetz is being investigated for potentially dating a 17-year-old girl — the number 17 has specific relevance to QAnon supporters, as Q is the 17th letter in the alphabet.
“The ’17’ is a dead giveaway on BS!” wrote one Q fan.
QAnon fans’ defense of Gaetz is particularly ironic because the entire point of the conspiracy theory is to uncover a global underage sex trafficking ring supposedly being run by the leaders of the Democratic Party.
Check out some more messages from QAnon devotees defending Gaetz below.
Q followers voice their support of Florida Congressman Matt Gaetz, who has been accused of sex trafficking a minor.
Supporters of the Q theory often defend their conspiracy-based movement by claiming that they are anti-pedophilia and anti-sex trafficking activists. pic.twitter.com/E2e90nkUer
— allie mezei (@pinealdecalcify) March 31, 2021
are you fucking kidding me pic.twitter.com/2yGbOvADLY
— allie mezei (@pinealdecalcify) March 31, 2021
Donald Trump’s ‘Eyes and Ears’ at DOJ Was Just Barred From the Building: Report
The Associated Press reported Thursday that President Donald Trump’s eyes and ears at the Justice Department was barred from entering the building.
The report revealed that Heidi Stirrup, “an ally of top Trump adviser Stephen Miller,” was pressuring Justice Department staff to hand over sensitive documents and information about alleged “election fraud” and other issues that are important to Trump.
Attorney General Bill Barr told the AP on Tuesday that there was no widespread election fraud or voter fraud, as Trump has claimed for the past several weeks since losing the 2020 election. Trump alleged that Barr “hasn’t looked very hard.”
Stirrup was put into the DOJ as a kind of go-between to hand information to the White House.
“She was told within the last two weeks to vacate the building after top Justice officials learned of her efforts to collect insider information about ongoing cases and the department’s work on election fraud,” the Associated Press reported, citing sources.
Less than 20 minutes later, Trump appointed the aide to the Board of Visitors to the US Air Force Academy.
This story was published at 3:05 PM. Seventeen minutes earlier, the WH sent out an email announcing that Trump has appointed the aide in question to the Board of Visitors to the US Air Force Academy https://t.co/gnRcl9PgqV https://t.co/2EztgZYYNs
— Lachlan Markay (@lachlan) December 3, 2020
Image: Official White House Photo by Joyce N. Boghosian via Flickr
Federal Agencies Tapped Phones of Portland’s Racial Justice Protestors to Prove They’re Terrorists
Two current officials from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) have confirmed that the DHS and the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) teamed up with the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) during this summer’s racial justice protests in Portland, Oregon for a covert operation focused on “extracting information from protester’s phones.”
The officials told The Nation that a DHS colleague with expertise in electronic surveillance was sent to Portland as part of “an interagency task force” using a classified cell phone cloning attack to “intercept protesters’ phone communications.”
“Cell phone cloning involves stealing a phone’s unique identifiers and copying them to another device in order to intercept the communications received by the original device,” The Nation explains. It’s a tactic conducted to better understand your target, their network and their planning. The DEA is believed to have had a “special key” to help carry out the surveillance.
While it’s unclear who specifically was targeted by the surveillance, “They were abusing people’s rights,” one official said. The DHS hasn’t responded to congressional calls to explain the program either.
The officials quoted in The Nation’s article say that colleagues from the DHS were asked to “volunteer” to participate in the program, something departments do to conduct operations outside of the department’s official and legal capacity.
The overall goal, the officials state, was to substantiate thin claims by Attorney General William Barr that Antifa (anti-fascist) activists are receiving foreign sponsorship, something that is a necessary criterion to formally designate the group as a terrorist organization, something Trump vowed to do as recently as yesterday.
Considering that the U.S. has a long history of surveilling, harassing and possibly even killing racial justice activists since before the Civil Rights era, this newest program is hardly surprising, albeit still frightening.
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