It’s the second day of Project Veritas’s undercover exposé on Twitter and James O’Keefe has uncovered more conservative censorship on the social media platform. Appearing in this video are both current and former employees that openly admit to “shadow banning” content that contradicts their own world views.
Olinda Hassan is a policy manager for Twitter’s trust and safety division. She says she’s “in a controversial team” because they are the ones who decide and enforce the rules on what content is or isn’t allowed. Hassan told a Project Veritas journalist that her team tries to “down rank” certain content so it won’t appear in timelines. Sometimes it still does, but she says, “That’s something we’re working on… where we’re trying to get shitty people to not show up.”
A former content review agent, Mo Norai, was caught on camera saying some decisions to take things down were not left to algorithms but made by employees who might not be happy that pro-Trump content was posting:
“Yeah, if they said this is: ‘Pro-Trump’ I don’t want it because it offends me, this, that. And I say I banned this whole thing, and it goes over here and they are like, ‘Oh you know what? I don’t like it too. You know what? Mo’s right, let’s go, let’s carry on, what’s next?'”
Norai said these were “unwritten rules” that employees were aware of “being that we’re in San Francisco, we’re in California, very liberal, a very blue state.”
“I mean, as a company, you can’t really say it because it would make you look bad, but behind closed doors are a lot of rules,” Norai dished. “It was never written, it was more said.”
Pranay Singh, a direct messaging engineer at Twitter, described how the company shadow bans a “majority” of Republicans:
“Yeah you look for Trump, or America, and you have like five thousand keywords to describe a redneck. Then you look and parse all the messages, all the pictures, and then you look for stuff that matches that stuff.”
But a former software engineer really let the cat out of the bag.
“One strategy is to shadow ban so that you have ultimate control,” Abhinav Vadrevu said. “The idea of a shadow ban is that you ban someone but they don’t know they’ve been banned, because they keep posting, but no one sees their content. So, they just think that no one is engaging with their content, when in reality, no one is seeing it.”
In O'Keefe's first installment, we learned that a persons private messages, whether they're deleted or not, are still on Twitter servers. An employee said the amount of user data they have on individual accounts is "terrifying" and "big brother-ish." A threat was made to expose President Trump's private messages, assuming he has ever used it, to the Department of Justice. However, Twitter responded and said they take privacy much more seriously than its employee stated. The company went on to say it is committed to "empower every voice on our platform." Yeah, sounds like it.
There is more to come in this series, so, stay tuned.