Suspicions Confirmed: Twitter Has Been Suppressing Content and Accounts With Secret Blacklists

The second installment of The Twitter Files is here. This time, the information is being presented by Bari Weiss, founder and editor of The Free Press. The second part of this series focuses on the blacklists that Twitter created to prevent certain accounts from showing up in searches or on the trending page.

Lost Along The Way

Weiss pointed out that Twitter's mission used to be “to give everyone the power to create and share ideas and information instantly, without barriers.” It seems that the platform got lost somewhere along the way, because barriers were indeed erected.

Weiss's first example was Dr. Jay Bhattacharya, who tweeted that he believed the pandemic lockdowns would cause harm to children. As a result of his tweet, he was secretly added to a “Trends Blacklist” that would prevent any of his tweets from trending.

Her second example was right-wing talk show host Dan Bongino, who was placed on a “Search Blacklist.”

Conservative Charlie Kirk's account was set to “do not amplify” secretly.

Caught in a Lie

Interestingly, Twitter's head of Legal Policy and Trust, Vijaya Gadde and Head of Product Kayvon Beykpour said in 2018 that “we do not shadow ban” and added “and we certainly don't shadow ban based on political viewpoints or ideology.”

What we know as shadow banning is referred to as “visibility filtering” or “VF.” A senior Twitter employee told Weiss, “Think about visibility filtering as being a way for us to suppress what people see to different levels. It’s a very powerful tool.”

Weiss says that Twitter used VF to block searches for individual users and limited the scope of certain tweets' discoverability.

Additional Twitter employees confirmed that the company controls visibility “quite a bit” and that users have no knowledge of it.

Weiss also exposed the existence of a secret moderation group called the “Site Integrity Policy, Policy Escalation Support” or “SIP-PES.” This group allegedly included Vijaya Gadde, Head of Trust and Safety Yoel Roth, CEOs Jack Dorsey and Parag Agrawal.

This group handled the “politically sensitive” cases. They supposedly targeted “high follower count” and “controversial” accounts.

One such account was Libs of TikTok, who earned the label on their account, “Do Not Take Action on User Without Consulting With SIP-PES.”

The account, created by Chaya Raichik in November 2020, gained over 1.4 million followers and racked up six suspensions in 2022 alone. Twitter told Raichik that her account was suspended for violating the “hateful conduct” policy.

However, an internal SIP-PES document reveals in October 2022, after Raichik was given her seventh suspension, the committee admitted that “LTT has not directly engaged in behavior violative of the Hateful Conduct policy.”

The justification for her suspension was that her posts were encouraging online harassment of “hospitals and medical providers” by implying that “gender-affirming healthcare is equivalent to child abuse or grooming.”

Raichik was actually doxxed in November 2022. A photo of her house with her address was posted on Twitter and racked up more than 10,000 likes. Raichik reached out to Twitter to let them know what had happened, and they sent her a message saying, “We reviewed the reported content, and didn't find it to be in violation of the Twitter rules.”

No action was ever taken and the tweet is still up on the account.

Restricting Visibility

A Slack message from Yoel Roth to a colleague in 2021 reveals that Twitter employees were using technicalities to restrict the visibility of tweets and content.

Just six days later, in another direct message, Roth asked an employee on the Health, Misinformation, Privacy, and Identity research team for more research relevant to “expanding non-removal policy interventions like disabling engagements and deamplification/visibility filtering.”

This article was produced and syndicated by Wealth of Geeks.