Net neutrality died, but not for the reasons people were protesting

Net neutrality is gone and had nothing to do with FCC rules on net neutraliy.

Google has or is in process of modifying their search systems so that web sites that do not support https secure access are moved down the list of search results. Further, Google has announced that the speed of the web site access will now become a factor in search results. These changes add costs to low end publishers or individuals wishing to run web sites – and have the effect of making it harder to start up personal or small group web sites and to obtain readership.

Youtube announced that in order to run ads on videos, a channel must now have at least 1,000 subscribers and at least 4,000 hours of video content viewed during the previous 12 months. This raises the bar for new channel developers to monetize their content.

Youtube has undertaken other changes including making videos invisible to searches, or preventing them from being shared or commented upon, if in Youtube’s view, the content may be considered objectionable by someone. When we say “Youtube’s view”, this often means a “machine learning” algorithm. “Machine learning” is a fancy way of saying pattern matching based on techniques used in artificial intelligence simulators.

Twitter has admitted, in various forums like Congressional testimony or by current or former employees, that the company uses “Tweet throttling” to reduce exposure for some tweets (a form of shadow banning) and modifies the trending topics lists when topics that Twitter does not like, become popular. Twitter also disallows some individuals from displaying the “verified” check mark next to their name (without saying why), and has also shut down accounts of some users, without saying why (and there not being an obvious reason).

Net censorship is common and widespread – and is used by those who said net neutrality would lead to censorship of content. Hah hah. Very funny.

Facebook and Google announce they are launching their own anti-propaganda content

Anti-propaganda is just propaganda in front of a mirror.

Facebook, Google and Twitter say they’re creating more anti-terror propaganda to combat violent messages at their source.

Source: Facebook, Google tell Congress how they’re fighting extremist content

Google’s Youtube analyzes your past searches and viewing patterns and “determines” if the viewer “may be headed toward extremism”. If so, Youtube presents ads to “subtly contradict” others’ propaganda messages.

Youtube is removing comments from videos that contain hateful content, as determined by Youtube’s “machine learning” algorithms, automatically. Not mentioned here, but Youtube has also gone to “de-monetization” of videos containing video content that Youtube does not like. What Youtube does not like is hard to determine – I watched a video by a photographer showing that Youtube is “de-monetizing” his photography “how to” videos, for no apparent reason.

A related Youtube change effective immediately, is that Youtube channels are prohibited from running advertising if they have less than 1,000 subscribers and at least 4,000 hours of content viewed during the preceding year.

Facebook is supporting “counterspeech efforts” using automated image and language analysis to identify content. Facebook and Google both say they are using propaganda methods to counter program those they think are receiving propaganda from “hateful” or “violent” persons or groups.

Twitter is using “Tweet throttling”, a form of shadow banning, and down marking trending topics that Twitter decides should not be trending.

Twitter admits that it “downranks”

Twitter admits it can “downrank accounts”, which is a modified from of shadow banning.

Source: Twitter Responds to Project Veritas’s Video Claiming It Shadow Bans

As I have noted, a shadow ban can mean only the poster sees their tweets, or only their current followers see their tweets – but their tweets may be displayed less frequently to their followers, or not at all to non followers – thereby making the tweets disappear from search results. That this goes on is apparent due to other oddities, like messages from Twitter saying a Tweet is unavailable, but when you click through, you can see the tweet that is “not available”.

A problem with secret censorship is the censor is eventually discovered.

As of 1 pm, PST, a search of Google News shows that not a single mainstream news outlet has reported on current or former Twitter employees admitting on camera to shadow banning tweets and users whose political messages they disagree with.

Update: Twitter is not denying that it engages in various forms of censorship. Twitter does say that it has privacy and other policies in effect. While denying it does shadow bans, it does acknowledge down ranking, which is a variation of shadow banning.

How Twitter’s shadow banning system works

Here is some insight in to how Twitter’s shadow banning algorithm’s may be operating.

In addition to their “machine learning” (a good but significantly over-hyped technology) scanning of messages, their algorithms take in to account user reports, and the muting or blocking of accounts to decide if individual tweets or accounts should be shadow banned. The user that is shadow banned is not notified of the ban.

Once shadow banned, one’s Tweets may not show up in some follower’s Twitter feeds, may be excluded from search results, and generally made invisible. In the former, a shadow banned tweet (or account) might have Tweets appear only in news feeds of existing followers – thereby seeming to continue to have normal interactions so that you are not aware of the shadow ban. However, as I discovered for a 4 week period when I posted screen snap shots of HealthCare.gov actual price quotes – I gained zero new followers, although my existing followers continued to interact on the topic. The lack of new followers is a sign that my account likely had a partial shadow ban. I previously gained my largest influx of new followers when I had posted similar Tweets earlier in the year, giving more evidence that my account was partially shadow banned by Twitter because a Twitter employee did not want this public information to be disseminated.

Shadow bans are not necessarily permanent and in fact, may generally be temporary.

Update: Another way that Twitter controls the tweets you see is that Twitter curates your news feed. Twitter selects the content that Twitter believes you want to see and highlights those Tweets at top. Twitter also selects content from other people to display your news feed – content from people you do not follow.

The combination of curation, insertion of random tweets from people you do not follow, down ranking and shadow banning means that Twitter is George Orwell’s 1984, in real life, directly controlling the information you see. Twitter is basically a massive propaganda operation. If Twitter were based in Russia, North Korea or Iran, the U.S. would be loudly proclaiming Twitter as a tool of an evil regime.

 

Was I “shadow banned” by Twitter? #shadowbanned

For a little over a month last fall, I ramped up my daily use of Twitter. During that time, I posted many screen snapshots of actual price quotes from HealthCare.gov.

For 4 weeks, I did not see a single new follower to my Twitter feed. It was as if my account had vanished. Not one additional follower for 4 weeks.

With the news that Twitter actively censors political or policy speech that Twitter disagrees with, it seems likely that Twitter shadow banned my posts.”Shadow banning” can mean only the poster sees their own posts, but their posts are invisible to all others. Or, in the case of Twitter, it can also mean that Twitter still shows your posts, but at a greatly reduced rate, intentionally omitting posts from other’s Twitter feeds.

With no one – or few – seeing my posts, my account had gone dark. At the end of the 4 week period, my account began to receive new followers once again.

In December I chose to reduce my use of Twitter. My decision was influenced by the idiocy displayed after the crash of an Amtrak train in Washington State. Twitter had become a waste of time.

The main thing Twitter is good for is to find examples of social media propaganda methods!

 

Twitter supported “net neutrality” while simultaneously shadow banning political views on Twitter

Then: Twitter and others warn FCC of ‘disastrous’ net neutrality reversal

“Disastrously, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) last week released a draft order that would end this open commerce by repealing the current net neutrality rules and eliminating the protections that keep the internet free and open for America’s businesses and consumers”

Today: Twitter “shadow bans” those posting political viewpoints that Twitter does not like

A “shadow ban” means posts are visible only to the poster and no one else. By seeing their own posts, the poster is not aware they have been censored. This technique was developed to impede spammers. The spammer would post an advertisement/link in a comment – and the spammer would see their own spam appear online, unaware that the post was invisible to everyone else. It might be weeks or months before the spammer caught on. The shadow ban effectively stalled the spammer from achieving their goals.

In effect, a shadow ban is a secret censorship program. Twitter staff have been caught on camera admitting to applying shadow bans to political speech. They also admit to taking down accounts under government pressure.

It is inevitable now that social media will be subject to regulation. Twitter is on shaky ground – if they are acting as editors, then they can be held responsible for the content posted by their users. They no longer have a safe harbor that they are merely a carrier of communications, like a telephone company.

This blog was shadow banned by Facebook a year ago, almost certainly because their algorithms incorrectly identified the few automated posts originating on the then self hosted WordPress blog, as spam. I could manually post the items on FB, and after switching to a WordPress.com hosted blog, the automated posts continue to go through.

In the fall of 2018, I posted factual price quotes from HealthCare.gov as a comment to an Oregonian article on the ACA – my comment was shadow banned. We no longer read The Oregonian’s fake news.

Author advocates more control and censorship over Youtube video content

In a free advertisement courtesy of USA Today, author Andrew Keen, who has made his living writing books condemning the Internet is quoted:

Andrew Keen says the real problem lies with YouTube, a platform without gatekeepers. The rules on the content that’s allowed on television, particularly children’s television, should extend to YouTube, which is soaking up more and more of young people’s screen time, says Keen, author of the upcoming book How to Fix the Future: Staying Human in the Digital Age.

“It’s the same old story. No curation, no mediation, no taste, no boundaries. All clicks,” says Keen. “How many times does this need to happen?”

Source: Logan Paul Japan vlog video raises issue: Is YouTube is safe for kids?

Keen thinks user generated content is evil. While I have similar concerns I do not advocate heavy handed, top down, centralized content control nor censorship programs, as Keen does.  I advocate that information consumers turn off the spigot and take charge over what they subject themselves to each day and learn to think for themselves. Consumers must use social media with their brains firmly engaged. Think before you Like and Share. Don’t be gullible.

Facebook deletes FB, Instagram accounts of Head of Chechen Republic

The Head of the Chechen Republic is the title formerly known as “President of Chechen Republic”.

The strongman leader of the Chechen Republic has long been a prolific social media user, filling his accounts with photos of him cuddling his cat, lifting weights or soliciting poems about President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia.

So when Ramzan Kadyrov’s Facebook and Instagram accounts, which had four million followers between them, were unexpectedly taken down on Dec. 23, people took notice.

A Facebook spokeswoman said that Mr. Kadyrov’s accounts were deactivated because he had just been added to a United States sanctions list and that the company was legally obligated to act.

Facebook removes social media accounts of Chechen Republic leader

Twitter curates the Tweets you see

Many Twitter tweets I see are from people I do not follow yet their tweets appear in my Twitter feed. Why?

Twitter inserts them because they can!

Twitter inserts others tweets into each of our feeds based on its own secret algorithms. By choosing to insert tweets from people we choose not to follow, Twitter introduces its own potential propaganda messaging. 100% of such tweets I checked are political in nature – and I do not know why I am seeing them.

Source: Yes, Twitter is putting tweets in your timeline from people you don’t follow

Another reason I am no longer a regular user of Twitter.

(I filed this under Censorship as the closest matching category – by increasing the noise to signal ratio, Twitter is censoring the content I wanted to see.)