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Shadowbanning: Free Speech Cannot Flourish in a Safe Space


Safe Spaces Are Anti Free Speech

Free speech cannot flourish with the existence of safe spaces, period! However, it has become apparent that the liberals and their partisans behind the scenes at tech companies in Silicon Valley are determined to create safe spaces where only approved narratives are allowed to flourish.

Promoting healthy conversation is tantamount according to Twitter. Healthy conversation? What is healthy conversation?

Here is an excerpt from the official Twitter blog post entitled, “Serving Healthy Conversation” which was posted in May.

“In March, we introduced our new approach to improve the health of the public conversation on Twitter. One important issue we’ve been working to address is what some might refer to as “trolls.” Some troll-like behavior is fun, good, and humorous. What we’re talking about today are troll-like behaviors that distort and detract from the public conversation on Twitter, particularly in communal areas like conversations and search. Some of these accounts and Tweets violate our policies, and, in those cases, we take action on them. Others don’t but are behaving in ways that distort the conversation.”

You can read the blog post in its entirety here.

What Does “distort the Conversation” Mean?

Does distorting the conversation mean providing a different conclusion from a pushed liberal mainstream narrative? For example, when independent photographer Zdenek Gazda captured Hillary Clinton collapsing at the 9/11 Memorial during the 2016 election cycle, liberal mainstream media discredited the video.

The video was soon spread on Twitter and many trended hashtags pushed by the likes of Mike Cernovich and Jack Posobiec helped provide an alternative narrative. This is just one example, but it seems that efforts to “distort the conversation” away from the liberal approved narrative are no longer allowed.

The use of the #HillarysHealth hashtag led Twitter to devise a new tactic to promote healthy conversation in an effort to provide security to liberals who didn’t want to question the mainstream narrative.

This, from the same Healthy Conversation blog post mentioned before. “Today, we use policies, human review processes, and machine learning to help us determine how Tweets are organized and presented in public places like conversations and search. Now, we’re tackling issues of behaviors that distort and detract from the public conversation in those areas by integrating new behavioral signals into how Tweets are presented. By using new tools to address this conduct from a behavioral perspective, we’re able to improve the health of the conversation, and everyone’s experience on Twitter, without waiting for people who use Twitter to report potential issues to us.”

Why do we need a social media commissar to determine what is healthy and what is not? Apparently, Twitter feels there need to be artificial means put in place to prevent liberals and others from interacting with those who may cause an inherent triggering. Does this sound familiar? Did someone say “safe space”?

What Is Real Healthy Conversation?

A healthy conversation is not limited. It is not censored. A healthy conversation is balanced. A healthy conversation involves discussion that is sometimes unpleasant to the ears.

The left never seemed to have a problem with unhealthy conversation. Howard Stern made a career out of uncomfortable discussions. Jerry Springer famously gave platforms to all sorts of undesirable persons such as mass murderers and the KKK. Sometime since the election of Barack Obama, the left decided it could not handle discussions and topics outside their safe zones.

Twitter has implemented all sorts of limiting algorithms to prevent delicate liberals from being triggered. The latest effort, the Quality Filter Discrimination or QFD Shadowban is intended to create a safe space for liberals who do not want to interact with those who have differing viewpoints.

The new QFD Shadowban has affected a significant amount of conservative accounts. The effects of the QFD Shadowban has been widespread across the right. The new algorithm drew the ire of the likes of GOP Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel, who spoke out about the practice on Twitter.
The notion that social media companies would suppress certain political points of view should concern every American. Twitter owes the public answers to what’s really going on. https://t.co/i9UtbxJrt0
— Ronna McDaniel (@GOPChairwoman) July 23, 2018 

President Donald Trump also spoke out about the new algorithm and said he was going to open an inquiry.
Twitter “SHADOW BANNING” prominent Republicans. Not good. We will look into this discriminatory and illegal practice at once! Many complaints.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 23, 2018 

Twitter was quick to post a rebuttal via their blog interface saying that they do not shadowban.

“People are asking us if we shadowban. We do not. But let’s start with, “what is shadow banning?

The best definition we found is this: deliberately making someone’s content un-discoverable to everyone except the person who posted it, unbeknownst to the original poster.

We do not shadowban. You are always able to see the tweets from accounts you follow (although you may have to do more work to find them, like go directly to their profile). And we certainly don’t shadowban based on political viewpoints or ideology.

We do rank tweets and search results. We do this because Twitter is most useful when it’s immediately relevant. These ranking models take many signals into consideration to best organize tweets for timely relevance. We must also address bad-faith actors who intend to manipulate or detract from healthy conversation.”

Twitter Is Censoring Conservatives by Shadowbanning

What Twitter fails to address is that when you rank content, you are essentially “shadow banning.” When you determine that some users are “bad-faith actors” and do not provide a concrete explanation of what facets are considered when determining that criteria, you have in essence a population to be included in a rating-based shadowban. Who are considered “bad-faith actors”? Who encompasses that subset? Conservatives? Trump supporters? It seems likely conservatives and Trump supporters are included in this. When you make sure content from this subset is ranked lower than another cohort, you have a bias. This will come in handy during the 2018 midterm election cycle when highly-ranked liberal friendly content is allowed to flourish on Twitter. In opposition, lower-ranked conservative and MAGA content will be searchable but not easily viewed.

This will have a profound effect on narrative sculpting this Fall. The left will have a free reign on Twitter to spread their content to the independent voter as conservatives will be limited to their own echo chambers.

This really is not about healthy conversation or limiting the impact of bad-faith actors. It’s about controlling the narrative and influencing independent voters who are undecided.

Ultimately, there will need to be action taken against tech companies such as Twitter who are installing ranking systems to aid the Democratic Party. In order to have free and fair elections, both parties should have the same opportunity to present their message to the masses. When one party dominates the discussion in cyberspace, it opens up a big ethical can of worms. The question is this- Will the likes of Jim Jordan, Ted Cruz, and Devin Nunez step up to the plate and demand equal representation on tech platforms? I certainly hope they do so.

Jake Highwell / Writer

I am a political pundit and equal justice advocate with two decades of journalistic experience. Currently residing in the Democratic stronghold of Chicago and a recovering Obama voter, I strive to bring insight and commentary to the MAGA Nation.
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  1. Shadowbanning is an art with Twitter. They punish in various ways, from the overt "time out" to the very subtle algorithm shifting in discovering tweets from conservatives, not to mention outright suspension. I'm not saying some banning isn't necessary, but ALL shadowbanning is both unnecessary and, in my view, illegal.

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