- The Washington Times - Thursday, August 9, 2018

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey said in a radio show reported by The Hill that his company does not engage in shadow banning of conservative voices — “period.”

Case closed, move on, nothing to see here, “period.”

Oh, but au contraire, says none other than the president of the United States.

Twitter ‘SHADOW BANNING’ prominent Republicans,” President Donald Trump tweeted in late July. “Not good. We will look into this discriminatory and illegal practice at once! Many complaints.”

Shadow banning, for those unfamiliar with the term, is when Twitter flags certain social media users and restricts their accounts so they can still read posts, and can still make posts — but unbenownst to them, nobody else can see and read their posts. It’s like they’ve become a ghost — a shadow on social media.

Dorsey denies his company engages in the practice.

“We do not shadowban according to political ideology or viewpoint or content, period,” he said during an interview on radio with Sean Hannity.

He went on to say his company was trying to do a better job of keeping posts free of regulation and restriction while also maintaining an atmosphere of civility and courtesy for all.

“We’re trying to approach this with a very simple principle — how do we earn more trust? We haven’t done a great job of communicating our principles.”

True, true.

Twitter has become the Comcast cable of modern time — poor on customer service, poor on addressing consumer complaints and concerns, poor on explaining why service was disconnected, poor on reconnecting service once disconnected, but high, very high, on the Scales of Arrogance.

Comcast, of course, got its comeuppance once the doors of competition opened. Twitter? No such luck.

Still, it is a bit disingenuous to hear of Dorsey denying, denying, denying any sort of politically motivated silencing of Twitter users from those within his corporate ranks.

There was this from Business Insider in late July: “A Vice News report published Wednesday found that some prominent Republican Twitter users weren’t showing up in the auto-filling Twitter search box, even if you typed their full name in directly.”

And this, around the same time frame — a headline from USA Today: “Report: Prominent Republicans see their influence limited on Twitter, Democrats don’t.”

Twitter’s head of products, Kayvon Beykpour, has explained away such complaints as simple fixes the company’s already made — again with the nothing to see here, move on, go home line of logic.

But how come it’s always conservatives who get the short end of the Twitter stick? How come Democrats aren’t suffering the same social media fate?

These are questions that can only be addressed when the biases of Twitter’s employees — who program these same biases into the algorithms used to search and destroy troll-like and abusive behaviors — are tweaked. And by tweaked, it’s meant: Hey, Dorsey, how about hiring just as many conservatives as liberals?

That may not completely solve the problem of bias. But it could help. It could give the public the impression that there’s an actual attempt being made — that Dorsey’s “shadow ban? what shadow ban?” shoulder shrugging isn’t just a feigned attempt to dodge accountability and criticism.

• Cheryl Chumley can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter, @ckchumley.


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