Twitter’s impartiality is being questioned yet again with a report from Buzzfeed that it shielded President Obama from abusive feedback in May 2015.
Multiple sources told Buzzfeed on Thursday that Twitter’s senior leadership used an algorithm during an #AskPOTUS town hall to filter out abusive language directed at Mr. Obama. The move came in addition to manually censored tweets.
Sources told the website that many senior employees at Twitter were kept in the dark regarding the decision over fears they would object.
The social media giant recently came under fire for giving a lifetime ban to conservative pundit Milo Yiannopoulos after an argument with “Ghostbusters” star Leslie Jones. Twitter was also accused of temporarily torpedoing the hashtag #DNCLeaks after Wikileaks released 20,000 emails by Democratic National Committee staff members.
Twitter was under the direction of former Twitter CEO Dick Costolo during the Obama town hall event. Mr. Costolo handed control to Jack Dorsey in July 2015.
Buzzfeed’s sources said similar measures were taken to protect transgender celebrity Caitlyn Jenner.
“This was another example of trying to woo celebs and show that you can have civilized conversations without the hate even if you’re a high-profile person,” one source said. “But it’s another example of a double standard — we’ll protect our celebrities, while the average user is out there subject to all kinds of horrible things.”
Mr. Costolo did not respond to the website’s requests for comment.
“Twitter is tanking because they don’t deliver the service they promise. You can interact with famous and powerful people, you just aren’t allowed to disagree with them,” one Buzzfeed reader responded on Thursday.
“If a company says to their investors that they don’t regulate speech on the one hand, and on the other they do that which they claim they don’t, they they are engaging in fraud and dishonesty,” added reader Stacey Hanrahan.