Twitter, in theory, should be a mind-numbingly simple service.
1. I follow person X.
2. I see and can respond to tweets from person X.
3. Other people do the same with me.
This is how Twitter started, and how it got popular, as the original genius of Twitter was the simplicity of the service. Twitter did something never before seen, taking the instant messenger and making it global in reach. Now, the service has become far more complex, what was once a hands-off operation has now become embroiled in the political arena and free speech arguments. The same happened with Google, what started out as a simple search and email service has evolved into something much more sinister, as Silicon Valley companies have declared themselves the arbiters of our speech, and continue to find new and inventive ways to censor thought crimes they don’t like. I wrote about this some months ago regarding several algorithms I discovered that were flagging myself and others as “Russian Bots,” thus applying what some refer to as a “Shadow Ban” to my account.
Let’s talk about the shadow ban controversy for a moment, as there is something of a disconnect regarding the term. Republicans for some time have been using the term as a catch-all regarding online censorship, and it never really had a strict definition. The gist of it was that everyone does not see your tweets and that the system and algorithms were doing “something” to stop people from seeing your tweets, and it suspiciously was only happening to Republicans. Twitter denied this and issued the following statement:
“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 undiscoverable 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 shadow ban based on political viewpoints or ideology.”
If you read the above statement, it looks like a relatively innocuous corporate reply, but let me point out a few things. First, they apply a strict definition to the term shadowban, then deny that they DELIBERATELY engage in that exact definition of the term. As every conservative on Twitter knows, the description they have decided to use is not at all what we generally perceive as happening. What Twitter is engaging in is plausible deniability, in that they are not directly censoring you for being a Republican, they have just constructed the algorithm in such a way as to downrank conservative sources and hashtags as being bots or troll accounts. Secondly, at the bottom of that statement in parenthesis, they admit to doing exactly what they are accused of, namely not showing you the tweets from people you follow. In short, they are playing a word parsing game to absolve themselves of being accused of censorship. Jack Dorsey, CEO of Twitter, even went as far as to go on Sean Hannity’s radio show to deny that they censor conservatives, yet again playing the plausible deniability game.
However, it doesn’t stop there. Not even close.
In March, Twitter introduced a concept called “conversational health.” In other words, behavior they deem abusive or trollish means you are not contributing to a healthy conversation and thus will have your tweets hidden from view. Note that apparently death threats and abuse from left wing accounts do not fall under the “unhealthy conversation” moniker, as I’ve never even heard of someone on the left being “shadow banned” for such behavior. Yet, if Chelsea Handler, Amy Siskind, Jimmy Kimmel, or any other progressive tweets something, and I respond with a humorous reply or correction, that is me contributing to poor conversational health.
Let me show you how this works.
1. Person A comments on Person B’s Tweet.
2. Group C initiates a campaign to block and report Person A.
3. Person A is now flagged as a “low conversation health” user.
4. Twitter’s algorithm removes Person A from visibility for an indeterminate amount of time.
You see, none of this process requires Twitter to censor based on political viewpoint. When Twitter says “We don’t deliberately censor conservatives,” they technically aren’t lying. There isn’t someone physically sitting at a desk and saying “AH HA, you used #MAGA, here’s a ban!” The other trick that they use is to rank sources such as Breitbart or Infowars extremely low, to filter tweets involving them to lower visibility, much like Google does in search rankings. The only way to “beat” this system is to have so many followers that they can’t effectively shadowban you without backlash.
Why then is all this happening? Here is my theory: organized pressure campaigns.
Three years ago, no one had even heard of a shadow ban. It was extremely rare to hear of someone getting banned from Google, Facebook, Twitter, or YouTube, even for heinous hate speech. Yet now, all of a sudden, in the past two years, it’s a daily occurrence perpetrated by our Silicon Valley overlords. It’s almost as if there was an event that happened in the last two years that was the trigger mechanism for all of this online censorship.
Oh, wait, let me guess.
The election of Donald Trump was facilitated to a large extent by his domination of social media, and now the left wants to stop it from happening again, at any cost. If you watch left-wing Twitter as I do, you can watch in real time as they wage organized reporting and blocking campaigns, which works in conjunction with Twitter algorithms to suppress conservative thought, equating to a “shadow ban.” There is a reason that we didn’t see significant censorship two or three years ago because the left wasn’t taking social media seriously as a perpetuator of conservative or Republican ideas. Having realized that monumental error, they now seek to rectify it by organizing pressure campaigns against all of these companies, utilizing their massive organizing apparatus and partnerships with groups like the ADL and ACLU. It is no accident that social media censorship has ramped up dramatically in the Age of Trump, and shows no sign of slowing down. Social media cost them an election once, and they learned from it, realizing how imperative it is to stop speech that opposes theirs at the source.
Then, on top of all of it, this past week a project came to fruition they’ve been working on for some time: the complete destruction of the third party app ecosystem. Now, it’s no longer enough for them to completely control the conversation, they have to control how you see the conversation, introducing over the past few years a scaling set of barriers to ensure third-party apps can’t operate effectively. Twitter essentially requires that you use their app, which few like, to ensure that the third party apps cannot stop their draconian rule set and algorithms. Let me put it this way: the main Twitter app is so terrible, that I elected to use Tweetbot instead, even with a reduced functionality set. Twitter is, quite literally, putting entire companies out of business to ensure they control the conversation.
The left lost once due to social media, and they are doing everything possible to ensure it doesn’t happen again.
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Or so I’m told regularly by left wingers on Twitter. I thought I was just a semi-normal guy hanging out in the woods and periscoping and tweeting every day, but apparently I fluctuate weekly between a Nazi and a Russian Bot. In addition of being accused of being a pro-Putin bot account, my profile as actually been run through a machine learning algorithm. It then determined that I have a 10/10 score, or the highest possible likelihood of being a Fake Russian Bot account. Here’s a picture of my score some left winger sent me.
Upon further research I discovered one of the tools being used to classify us as Russian Bots. It originated in a Medium blog post by a poster named conspirator0, and the address is makeadverbsgreatagain.us. You type in the twitter handle, and it will tell you the probability that you are a Russian bot. In looking at numerous twitter accounts, the biggest differentiator in a high score vs a low score is the use of the MAGA hashtag. If you use that hashtag your score skyrockets automatically. Use it in conjunction with USA or 1A, it’s a near max score. The article links to Melissa Ryan and her CTRL-ALT-RIGHT-DELETE newsletter on Medium. Going back through her post history, she’s been parroting these Russia-Trump talking points from the beginning. Go to the address and run your own profile to see if you too, could be a Russian Bot.
As the Left’s Russia narrative continues to evaporate, they continue to look for new and fantastical ways to explain the “Russian Connection”. They continually flounder at trying to prove any connection between Donald Trump and Russia. Trump’s “murky” connections as the Washington Post asserts, basically amounts to Trump running a pageant there, and selling a house to a Russian guy. So, they couldn’t prove direct collusion with Trump, so they started in on the fringe players like Roger Stone and Carter Page. As Roger Stone obliterated those ideas in his testimony and through media, they need to find another way to prove Russia helped Trump. The latest are the fact that Russia bought 100K in Facebook ads, and that the Pro-Trump messaging on Twitter is coming from Russian bots.
The Facebook ads are particularly hilarious, because 100K is nothing on Facebook. That’s so insignificant in terms of ad buys it barely rates a mention, to say nothing of the fact that the ads apparently weren’t explicitly pro-Trump. There was Black Lives Matter messaging among other divisive ads, which proves that maybe they had a small interest in sowing division. 100K is so insignificant, that barely rates a weekend getaway for Putin, so to act like that somehow swung an election is absurd. Then we come to the Russian Bot question on Twitter. No one disputes whether or not there are bots on Twitter. The question is are there bots specifically placed there by Russia to amplify pro-Trump messaging? So lets take a look at the “criteria” that’s used to by the left to determine what constitutes a Russian bot. Here’s a line from the New York Times with the headline:
So let’s take a look at that line. Russian “fingerprints”. What exactly constitutes a Russian fingerprint? That’s the question they hope you won’t look too closely at. Apparently I have them all over my account.
Use a particular hashtag too much i.e. #MAGA?
Possible Russian Bot.
Have an American Flag profile picture?
Possible Russian Bot.
Mention positive Trump messages too often?
Possible Russian Bot.
Talk about 1A and 2A a lot?
Possible Russian Bot.
Retweet and like a lot of pro-Trump messages?
Possible Russian Bot.
The criteria that’s being fed into these algorithms is faulty from the start. They try to throw around terms like “Machine learning” and “Algorithm” because they sound high tech and impartial. “Oh it’s an algorithm, it’s totally impartial” is the most ridiculous defense of all time. Someone has to feed the criteria into the algorithm, thus it is susceptible to manipulation. This is the same with a company like Google. They can rate sites in terms of perceived “legitimacy” thus causing the algorithm to place them higher in results. A YouTube staffer admitted to exactly this in the latest Project Veritas video, and a New York Times staffer did the same, admitting collusion between the Times and YouTube. In my article “The Real Collusion Scandal” I outlined how the media, tech companies, and liberal organizations work together to amplify their views, and suppress conservatives. Not only is it happening, it’s about to get worse. Twitter executives have routinely been meeting progressive activists and even partnering with the ADL, who classifies anything to the right of Marx as “hate speech”. One of the first steps they are taking is to flag “pro-Trump” accounts as being Russian bots.
Mark my words, the left may have lost the election, but they are working overtime behind the scenes to win the information war. They thought they had it all in the bag before November 8, and now they are re-energized. They are flooding the web with articles that bear striking similarities across multiple high profile sites. Check out this search result, near identical wording across multiple sites.
Apparently the Russians are really “honing” and “sharpening” attacks. What are the odds that all these sites would use the exact same wording like that in the title? You have to give the progressives one thing, they sure are good at message discipline and propagating information.
Today, I’m a Russian Bot, maybe tomorrow I’m a Nazi again. I might even get lucky and evolve into a Macedonian content farmer the day after.
Or maybe I’ll just be a regular American sitting in the woods tweeting about progressive nonsense.
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Steve is the author of Forging the Iron Mind, and is the founder and CEO of Americana Prime.