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President Trump blasts Twitter, accuses it of ‘shadow banning’ prominent Republicans



donald trump trump towerPresident Donald Trump speaks following a meeting on infrastructure at Trump Tower, August 15, 2017 in New York City.Drew Angerer/Getty Images

  • President Trump accused Twitter of “discriminatory and illegal” practices on Thursday morning.
  • The accusations stem from a Vice News report this week that alleges Twitter “shadow bans” prominent Republicans, after Vice News’ investigation discovered their names no longer auto-populate in Twitter’s search bar.
  • “Shadow banning” is the practice of banning a user from a platform without them knowing; their posts still show up as if everything is normal, but no one sees what they’re saying.
  • Twitter had denied shadow banning anyone, but says it is making a change to rectify the auto-populating concerns.

President Trump is going after Twitter for what he says are “discriminatory and illegal” practices. 

At the heart of his accusation is a Vice News report this week that said that some prominent Republicans, including Republican Party chair Ronna McDaniel, are being “shadow banned” from Twitter. “Twitter ‘SHADOW BANNING’ prominent Republicans. Not good. We will look into this discriminatory and illegal practice at once! Many complaints,” Trump tweeted on Thursday morning.

A Vice News report published on Wednesday found that some prominent Republican Twitter users no longer show up in the auto-filling  Twitter search box, even if you type their name in directly. According to their findings, the names do still come up if someone already follows them.

Twitter’s head of product, Kayvon Beykpour, took to his own Twitter feed to push back on the report. 

“Our behavioral ranking doesn’t make judgments based on political views or the substance of tweets,” a tweet posted to his Twitter account on Wednesday afternoon said. According to Beykpour, Twitter began addressing “healthy public conversation” through a variety of changes earlier this year. “In May, we started using behavioral signals and machine learning to reduce people’s ability to detract from healthy public conversation on Twitter.”

Due to these changes, he said, “Some accounts weren’t being auto-suggested even when people were searching for their specific name.” Thus, according to Twitter, why some prominent Republicans haven’t been showing up on Twitter’s search bar. “Our usage of the behavior signals within search was causing this to happen,” he said.

More specifically, Beykpour is saying that the systems set up by Twitter to make its platform more healthy are what’s causing some Republican Twitter accounts to not show up as a suggestion in the search box for non-followers. “I’d emphasize that our technology is based on account *behavior* not the content of Tweets,” a Twitter representative told Vice News.

Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey briefly addressed the accusation of shadow banning on Wednesday. “It suffices to say we have a lot more work to do to earn people’s trust on how we work,” a tweet posted to his Twitter account said.

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