Twitter had secret ‘blacklists’ of conservatives, shadow-banning was known as ‘visibility filtering’ inside company

By John Hugh DeMastri

Twitter kept secret “blacklists” that included a doctor at Stanford and several prominent conservative voices that suppressed their ability to be found or heard on the social media platform, according to journalist Bari Weiss, founder and editor of The Free Press and former Wall Street Journal and New York Times columnist, who launched the second chapter in Elon Musk’s so-called “Twitter Files” Thursday evening.

Weiss tweeted what appeared to be a photo of Stanford University’s Dr. Jay Bhattacharya, a professor of health policy, with his account being prominently marked as being under a “Trends Blacklist.” Bhattacharya was secretly blacklisted because he “argued that Covid lockdowns would harm children,” and was thus unable to trend on the platform, according to Weiss.

In addition to Bhattacharya, Twitter placed Turning Point USA founder Charlie Kirk under a “Do Not Amplify” notice, while right wing talk radio personality Dan Bongino, who has appeared on Alex Jones’ InfoWars, was placed under a “Search Blacklist,” according to Weiss. The practice of limiting the access or reach of users’ content, commonly referred to as “shadow banning,” is something that Twitter has denied doing in the past, and is referred to internally as “Visibility Filtering” or “VF,” Weiss reported.

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

Twitter operated two teams that managed visibility filtering, with the lower-level team — known as the “Strategic Response Team — Global Escalation Team” — handling roughly 200 routine and recorded cases per day, Weiss reported. However, a second group, known as “Site Integrity Policy, Policy Escalation Support,” handled high-profile, politically sensitive accounts, making no record of their decisions, one Twitter employee told Weiss.

The second group included former Head of Legal, Policy and Trust Vijaya Gadde, former Global Head of Trust and Safety Yoel Roth, as well as then-CEOs Jack Dorsey and Parag Agrawal, Weiss reported.

“Think high follower account, controversial,” the twitter employee told Weiss. The employee noted that when this group was involved, “there would be no ticket or anything.”

The company’s internal slack messages showed that Roth was interested in using “deamplification” and “remediations” in order to slow the spread of viral content that the team considered to be misinformation, according to Weiss.

“We got [CEO Jack Dorsey] on board with implementing this for civic integrity in the near term, but we’re going to need to make a more robust case to get this into our repertoire of policy remediations – especially for other policy domains,” said Roth in a message to the company’s Health, Misinformation, Privacy and Identity research team, according to Weiss. “So I’d love research’s POV on that.”

After Twitter suffered a steep decline in advertising revenue following Musk’s takeover in late October, the company’s new CEO committed to fighting hateful content by reducing its visibility on the platform, in a Nov. 9 call with advertisers.

Weiss’ thread arrived six days after Matt Taibbi, contributing editor at Rolling Stone, launched “Part One” of Musk’s Twitter Files, focusing primarily on the mechanisms by which various high-level executives at twitter coordinated to suppress the spread of a New York Post article detailing a laptop owned by Hunter Biden.

Musk had initially tweeted on Dec. 2 that the second installment of the files would be released on Dec. 3, a date that he then pushed back “another day or so,” before going silent on the issue.

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Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons/osunpokeh
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17 thoughts on “Twitter had secret ‘blacklists’ of conservatives, shadow-banning was known as ‘visibility filtering’ inside company

  1. so did VT Digger,

    so much so they had to stop the commentary, because they couldn’t allow a free debate on line with the citizens of Vermont.

    Vermont Digger is an unlicensed lobby group, said this many years ago too.

    Because so many people across Vermont subscribe to VT Digger, they had stop the comments, because their narrative and lies couldn’t hold up against sunlight, truth and questioning.

    • Anything that didn’t agree with the VT Digger philosophy was deemed disturbing hate speech. I remember it was during the BLM riots. No one was allowed to disagree with BLM. Tiffany Riley got booted right out of the state.

    • Exactly right. VT Digger is stepping a very fine line…between being opinionated Lobby Group – for all things Progressive and Democrat….versus what they claim they are….a “non profit”. The difference is…claiming aa a non profit is tax exempt. I believe an lobbying entity is taxable.

      • non-profit set ups are the most abused organizational structure in Vermont, they rival the “think tanks” in Washington.

        We’re up to our eyeballs in corruption, lies and deceit

        They wouldn’t even allow us to use the term gr33n m7n p4rty in any of the comments along with other organizations, hence the cryptic spelling.

  2. This Twitter story is so rapidly unfolding that if we had an update ever hour it wouldn’t be enough.
    The information coming out, make this ‘piling out’- out is stunning..

    I read a Tweet where someone asked Elon when he’s going to get into showing us all the banned material about Covid and he responded that he is going to do this soon and bigtime..
    He said something like that- forgive me for not saving that Tweet to post, there is just so many that are amazing.
    So get ready to cover this one TNR.
    I’m sure the Vermonters- that have some of the highest vaccination rates and endured one of the hardest lockdowns will be quite interested in learning what was really going on.

  3. I have to LAUGH , hard. Twitter is the same thing as Vt Digger! Boith will censor and BAN you if they disagree. Twitter shut down any and all conservative opinions for those they despise. Vt Digger did the same thing. Because for a while VT Digger encouraged people to respond to their articles. But after a couple years it became readily apparent to VT Digger editors that the conservatives reading had sometimes into HUNDREDS of “thumb’s up” as a harsh rebuke to what they wrote….sometimes responses were 30, 40, 60 to 1…AGAINST what Digger wrote. After a while, it became TOO MUCH for Digger to possibly allow any repliess of DISSENT.. thoughtful, factual, rebutting to their Progressve BS…So what to do? BAN ALL REPLIES…that way Digger owns all …and NOTHING you can do about it… A ONE way Progressive outlet funded by a handful of extremely RICH Progressives.. Cancel Culture at it’s finest…be it Vt Digger…Twitter….Facebook or Google….they are all propaganda pushers

    • Totally agree Jeff! I used to read the digger “BC” of the reader comments. And
      Often the commenters were much more educated on matters, which didn’t look well for the journalist.

  4. Only the beginning…the receipts of crimes against children and crimes against humanity on deck. Some of it already coming out – Elon’s exchange with @Jack yesterday. The crux of this war is going to send the normies into tailspins. Be ready to offer comfort, support and information to those just waking up.

    • I agree Melissa.
      Us ‘Conspiracy Theorists’ have been right about everything we’ve said for our entire lives now- and these brain dead followers are going to be hit hard over their heads with this Reality.

      My 97 year old grandmother is looking at what is going on today in this falling nation and screaming from the rooftops.. “We told them that we’d be right where we are right now when they took God out of the schools!!”
      The biggest “We told you so” is coming from these people today with LONG Memories about how we got here, what they said and what they tried to do to stop all this..

      We’re all going to be proven right..

  5. This should not be a revelation to anyone who understands how corrupt the media is now. Most are just propaganda outlets for the democrats. There will be hearings about this after the Republicans take charge of the house in January. But it’s become fashionable for libs to lie to congress and courts because they know the corrupt DOJ will remain silent. The show will be fun though until the current administration is gone.

  6. Keep in mind that much of the media, including VT Digger and Front Porch Forum, have censored commentary. And these local media outlets are still practicing their deceptive practices. The question is, are they being coerced?

    While the Twitter ‘house of cards’ collapses before our eyes, our suspicions that revered institutions, the FBI, the CIA, and our legislatures, are complicit in this deception are being confirmed. Not only were elections manipulated, ours and our children’s lives have been put at risk.

    We know who some of these people are. But I suspect the complicit Vermont legislators, administrators, appointees, and special interest people know who they are too. And the sooner they come clean, the better it will be for everyone.

  7. Thank God and Elon for the truth finally.

    The rats are scattering because they now know the jig is up and the hammer of justice will eventually come down on them. Let the resignations continue, hopefully in the cabinet because they conspired to carry out this travesty with Zuckerbucks, Dopey and their buddies.

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