I mainly use 2 social media platforms, as these 2 until now seemed useful enough. One of them is YouTube, on which you can easily follow your preferred content creators and you can get a lot of news from both political spectrums. And the other is Twitter which seemed very good for micro public debates and discourse on many topics, but lately, I now consider it to be one monolith censorship.
From November 2017 I started to use Twitter my account was old is now 10 years old but I didn’t use it much for various reasons mainly because 140 characters were insufficient for my needs.
A bit of digging into the #shadowban
I didn’t hear about #shadowban until recently and I wasn’t sure if the shadowban exists or not. But one day when I logged in I noticed that the shadowban is absolutely real, first I’ve seen that a large chunk of my tweets have disappeared including my pinned tweet which was a simple quote by Van Gogh (“I know nothing with any certainty but the sight of the stars makes me dream.”).
Here is a screenshot of the google web cache of the account taken in February 2018 before my account was affected:
The google cache URL is still valid now (24.04.2018): https://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache:VuLCjxBhJp4J:https://twitter.com/andrei0x309+&cd=1&hl=en&ct=clnk&gl=en
Google Cache Screenshot:
A recent Screenshot:
As you see the number of tweets is very different, and of course that some tweets disappear because they remain orphan tweets(someone deletes the thread) but could not account for a percentage of 38.4% of deleted tweets.
Out there are some applications that verify if your profile is shadowbanned, but most of them say they might be inaccurate, and I don’t understand why as it is very simple to manually prove that an account is shadowbanned it only involves 3 steps:
1 Open an incognito window
2 Go to the supposed shadowbanned profile and check if it’s public and visible( ex: https://twitter.com/andrei0x309 )
3 Check if that user is banned from search results on Twitter using the public twitter search with a search query that searches for tweets from that account( ex: https://twitter.com/search?l=&q=from%3Aandrei0x309&src=typd )
If there are no results then here is your proof you are shadowbanned. So there is no glitch, or conspiracy the shadowban is real and provable. At the time of writing this article, my shadowban was lifted after 3 days, which by many accounts is the period you get when you get your first shadowban.
Why am I upset by the shadowban
Mostly because it’s deeply unethical, I generally read the terms of service for any product I extensively use, and I understand to be sanctioned when I broke the rules stated in the TOS even if the rules are pertinent or not(depending on your perception), but clearly for Twitter, the #shadowban doesn’t exist which is a load of BS considering how easy is to prove it.
Yes, you can’t demonstrate the deleted tweets but demonstrating that you have been removed from search results is pretty simple to demonstrate.
To be honest, I don’t care if this #shadowban is automated or not, if you let such things undocumented and you cheaply even deny the existence of such thing, then is obvious that anyone is entitled to believe in any conspiracy as long as you use this type of censorship.
In time I really do hope that distributed technologies will power platforms immune to censorship.