Media

Twitter has been 'shadow banning' conservatives, but not liberals — here's what that means

Some conservative figures are not showing up as readily in Twitter searches as liberal counterparts. Twitter has promised to address the issue. (DIPTENDU DUTTA/AFP/Getty Images)

Some conservatives have had their reach and accessibility limited on Twitter, whereas their liberal Democrat counterparts have not been impacted on the platform, a Vice News investigation has revealed.

Type the names of certain conservative figures in the search bar, such as Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), for example, and the profile doesn't automatically appear in the drop down results like most public figures do.

“The notion that social media companies would suppress certain political points of view should concern every American,” Republican Party chair Ronna McDaniel told VICE News. “Twitter owes the public answers to what’s really going on.”

Is it just conservatives?

Vice News, in order to test this problem for potential political bias, searched the names of numerous Democrats — Democratic Party chair Tom Perez, Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.), the entire 78-member Progressive caucus — and none of them appeared to be limited like the Republicans that Vice tested.

In addition to Jordan and McDaniel, the "shadow ban" applied to Reps. Mark Meadows, Matt Gaetz, Devin Nunes, and Donald Trump Jr. spokesman Andrew Surabian.

What does Twitter say about it?

Twitter pointed to its efforts to eliminate harmful content from its site, which particularly target racist and extreme right-wing figures who participate in "troll-like behaviors."

"We are aware that some accounts are not automatically populating in our search box and shippng a change to address this," a Twitter spokesman told Vice News. "I'd emphasize that our technology is based on account behavior, not the content of tweets."

Continuing problem?

The relationship between conservatives and social media has been fraught with accusations of bias recently. Conservatives in Congress have repeatedly demanded transparency from Facebook and Twitter about how the sites filter news and user accounts, but the processes are still somewhat unclear.

"This type of opaque behavior by social media companies is exactly why conservatives are speaking out and demanding more transparency and accountability," House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) told Vice.

 

One last thing…
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