What does the second part of the “Twitter files” sent by Elon Musk reveal? – Liberation

“The Twitter Files, Part Two!!”, launched on Friday Elon Musk on his social network in a message with a picture with two emojis symbolizing popcorn parts. A week earlier, the journalist Matt Taibbi published preliminary internal company exchanges related to the decision to ban, at the end of 2020, the sharing on the network of an article from New York Post to the son of Democratic candidate Joe Biden.

The “Twitter files”mainly staged by Musk, should show, by revealing secret internal exchanges, the supposed political censorship of the former management of the social network, and to highlight, on the other hand, the new ” liberated” Twitter aimed at the billionaire. advance.

The messages Elon Musk refers to this week are no longer related to the censorship surrounding the Hunter Biden file but, more generally, to the visibility given to certain accounts or topics, at the discretion of moderators and site managers. In a string of tweets, journalist Bari Weiss explained that “Groups of Twitter employees create blacklists”prevent topics or tweets from appearing “in fashion”and actively limit visibility “full accounts”, “all in secret, without informing users”. And to show three examples of personalities affected by these provisions: in the list of accounts that will be “not to highlight”, conservative activist Charlie Kirk; in ‘search blacklist’, ‘popular right-wing talk show host’ Dan Bongino; finally, at “trend blacklist”, Dr Jay Bhattacharya (signatory of the controversial Great Barrington Declaration and co-author of a biased study on the cost of confinement), Weiss simply presents as “arguing that detentions harm children”).

Banning the shadow

For Weiss, these visibility-restricting practices are under shadow ban or phantom blocking, even the social network will have “denies doing such things”. Like many Internet users who relayed his thread, Weiss here refers directly to a statement from two Twitter officials, dated 2018, in which they confirmed that Twitter “does not perform shadow banning”. however, if we refer to the statements in question, restricting the visibility of certain accounts is clearly assumed to be part of the arsenal of Twitter moderators. On the other hand, the two leaders maintain for the definition of shadow ban the truth “to intentionally make one’s content undiscoverable by anyone other than its author, without their knowledge”. However, there’s nothing like it on Twitter, they explained: “You still see tweets from accounts you follow (although sometimes you have to put in more effort to find them, like going directly to their profile). And we certainly do not practice selective banning based on political or ideological views. » Two Twitter officials also confirmed “[s’]attacking actors with malicious intent who seek to manipulate or hijack healthy dialogue. […] Tweets from malicious actors who seek to manipulate or divide the conversation should rank lower [dans les recherches]. This last point forms the basis of our work to foster a healthy public dialogue.”

Twitter identified that, among the signals used “to identify actors in bad faith”is considered “actions you take on Twitter (e.g. who you follow, who retweets you, etc.)”, “how other accounts interact with you (e.g. who mutes you, who follows you, who retweets you, who blocks you, etc.). In fact, of the elements presented online by Bari Weiss, nothing seems to fundamentally contradict these statements from 2018.

Some items received as new are no longer new. So, when Bari Weiss shared in her thread some screenshots of the interface used by Twitter moderators, where terms like “trend blacklist” where “find the blacklist”, there is nothing new here. So, in mid-2020, the site Vice has commented on the acquisitions of this same interface, determining that these “blacklists” refer to the techniques previously described by Twitter: they “do not prevent a user’s followers or even the general public from seeing their tweets, but accounts placed on these blacklists will not appear on Twitter’s trending page and will no longer appear in search results. research”.

Moderation actions that may be taken at the discretion of site managers

Continuing her thread, Bari Weiss proved that“More than just key moderators following company policy as presented in the paper”a group “secret” consisting of top Twitter officials may intervene in the process. A relative secret, as the moderation interface specifies, for some accounts, that no changes should be made “without consultation” the group in question.

The example given is the Libs of Tik-Tok account (identified in the American press as a key player in the anti-LGBT+ discourse on Twitter). “Twitter has repeatedly informed [l’auteure de ce compte] that he was suspended for violating Twitter’s ‘hateful conduct’ policy.”Weiss explained. “But [dans une note interne] of October 2022, after its seventh suspension, the committee recognized that [ce compte] has not directly engaged in conduct contrary to the hateful conduct policy.” The committee justified its suspensions internally by saying that its posts encouraged online harassment of “hospitals and medical care providers”. The case referred to here (threats received by hospitals that perform operations on trans people after Tik-Tok Libs tweets) has been documented, among many others, by the American press.

Bari Weiss invites us to compare these steps taken in the absence of reaction when, “On November 21, 2022, [une] picture of the house [de la détentrice du compte Libs on Tik Tok] along with his address was posted in a tweet that garnered over 10,000 likes. When[elle] Telling Twitter that his address had been leaked, he said that Twitter support responded with this message: “We reviewed the reported content and did not find it to be in violation of any Twitter policies.” No action taken. The doxxing tweet [divulgation sur Internet des informations sur l’identité et la vie privée, ndlr] is still in place.” It should be noted that at the date of these actions, the company was already under the influence of Elon Musk, the latter acquired the social network at the end of October. At the beginning of November, the same Musk decided to fire many employees … including some in charge of fighting online hate.

A “new Twitter policy” … that doesn’t detract from the old one

If it is again accepted by the conservative camp as containing explosive revelations, the second part of the “Twitter Files” does not, fundamentally, bring anything new to the knowledge of the site’s activities. Best of all, it doesn’t seem to conflict with Elon Musk’s “free” Twitter philosophy. In a message dated mid-Novemberthe new owner of the blue bird stated: “Twitter’s new policy is freedom of speech, not liberty [d’atteindre tout le monde]. Negative, hateful tweets will be deboosted and demonized to the maximum, and therefore will not generate advertising or other revenue for Twitter. You can’t find the tweet unless you specifically look for it, which is no different than the rest of the internet.”

After the publication of tweets by Bari Weiss, Elon Musk asserted that Twitter works “in a software update that will show the true status of your account, so it’s clear if you’ve been banned, why and how to appeal”. A proposal that will create a legal obligation from February 2024 in Europe, as the application of the European regulation on digital services.

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