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!

 

We watched a social media propaganda theme explode in real time – and you won’t believe what happened next!

This past week we learned about social media idiots!

In a world where facts and logic no longer matter, a train derailment on the first paying passenger run on a brand new, $181 million upgraded rail corridor, completed as part of an $800 million dollar infrastructure upgrade, is:

  1. An example of America’s “crumbling infrastructure”
  2. An example of America’s lack of investment in infrastructure
  3. An example that future budgets (which might cut infrastructure spending) caused this crash, in the present
  4. An example that Congress is stealing from the poor and giving to the wealthy
  5. Caused by Antifa pouring concrete on the tracks

All of these “instant” explanations were shared on social media because never let an event go unused for political propaganda messaging! And never let facts or logic intervene either!

In the real world, the propagandists promoting these messages were idiots – all of them.

The Reality

Option 6. Social media is filled with idiots

The rail line is brand new and is owned by Sound Transit, a government agency; the train cars are owned by the State of Washington and the State of Oregon which subsidize 40% of the costs and hire Amtrak to run the train. This was the first paying passenger run on the new line.

A total of $800 million was spent on the PNW corridor as a just completed infrastructure upgrade. 

Washington State Department of Transportation explained that the track is new as is the lead locomotive. The system has an active train control system designed to prevent over speed accidents but it had not yet been activated.

According to the National Transportation Safety Board, a data recorder on the train showed it traveling at 80 mph in a 30 mph speed zone. Physics – not infrastructure spending – caused the train to fly off the tracks (see also).

Social Media is Dominated by Idiots

The track and locomotive were BRAND NEW. You are an idiot.

Everything was BRAND NEW as a result of infrastructure investment. You are an idiot.

The track was BRAND NEW. Education investment played a role? You are an idiot.

The track was BRAND NEW. You are an idiot.

 

 

 

Fake news sites InfoWars and GatewayPundit, spread rumors that Antifa caused the train wreck, spreading pointless speculation in the absence of evidence (but but but speculation is okay you know!). Idiots.

Right-wing hysteria web site DrudgeReport presented the story this way – not one bit of it was true – it all false to the point of being fake news:

Newsweek

Newsweek has a long track record of misreporting and was the only news outlet to spin the story as in their headline. Idiots.

CNN

A day later, CNN jumped in with a pretend news report, rich in speculation, critical of not having enacted an infrastructure spending bill in 2017. All of which was irrelevant to the train crash but fit the fake news meme du jour popular on social media and in much of the media.

We went down this path before

In July 2015, Occupy Democrats blamed Republican investment in wars – and not infrastructure – for the collapse of an old bridge that was intentionally being demolished by construction crews because a brand new bridge had just been completed. Their followers shared this item tens of thousands of times on social media.

Facts and Logic No Longer Matter

All that matters is your feelings. If you feel a brand new train, crossing a brand new rail line funded with $800 million of infrastructure improvements – is an example of not funding infrastructure then your feelings must be true. Or a sign that you are idiot.

Epilogue

When a social media platform becomes over run with idiots, the value of that platform to everyone else goes down. Why spend time reviewing posts or tweets when so much of it is not true, fake news, or just outrage?

Since the train crash, I’ve largely stopped using Twitter and deleted the Twitter app from my phone and tablet. The signal to noise ratio dropped too low this past week.

Social media companies really do read your posts, emails and documents

Google’s GMail service “scans” your emails and Google Docs to serve you ads. The word “scans” implies scanning for keywords but that is a false assumption about what is actually being done.

Natural language processing technology has advanced to where these algorithms are the equivalent of someone reading all of your emails and taking notes. Literally, online services are reading all of your email and building dossiers on what they think they know about you, ostensibly to better target advertising to you.

Facebook is taking this to extremes, having announced this week that Facebook’s algorithms are analyzing all of your online posts to determine if you suffer from depression and may be suicidal. In the event their algorithm decides you may be showing suicidal tendencies, Facebook alerts the authorities who send first responders to your home.

In other words, Facebook is now operating as an unlicensed health care practitioner and diagnosing your health based on your writings, and without ever having met you or spoken with you.

Facebook uses this information for marketing purposes too – imagine conducting this analysis and then showing you ads for anti-depressants and “talk to your doctor”. Also consider,

“An egregious example of the kind of behavior these companies’ business models encourage surfaced this summer when an internal Facebook sales pitch to advertisers was leaked to an Australian newspaper. Facebook stated it had pinpointed an audience of thousands of young teenagers who felt “insecure,” “defeated,” “nervous,” “failures,” “worthless,” and “needed a confidence boost.” These diagnoses were based on a psychoanalysis of private Facebook information: what users posted, what they liked, how they appeared in photos, who their friends and how depressed were they as well as their search and shopping histories, visits to mental illness sites or hotlines and so forth.” (source)

Twitter analyzes your Tweets, “Likes” and who you follow, plus combines this information with 3rd party advertising networks to create a profile of attributes. You can see this by going to Settings and Privacy and then selecting Your Twitter Data, page down and look at Interests from Twitter and Interests from Partners.

I discovered that almost everything they deduced about me in the Interests from Partners was wrong – seriously wrong. About the only correct items are that I have a cat and a graduate degree (2 actually, but do not tell them!)

All of this collected data is used to fine tune propaganda messaging directed at you. Of course, much of this is advertising; however, ads are also run for political purposes too. In effect, online services are proving our hypothesis – that social media has become the most advanced, friction-less propaganda platform in human history.

Silicon Valley “tech” firms have morphed into the most advanced propaganda operations in human history. Their actions are conducted in secret, they are unbounded, and they are unregulated. Their technology is now used to directly influence you and public policy.

To illustrate, this week, the head of the FCC commented on “net neutrality” and noted that Silicon Valley tech firms promote neutrality of the broadband pipe – while simultaneously censoring discussions conducted on their platform (Twitter and Youtube both do this). As if on cue, almost immediately thereafter, Eric Schmidt, the chairman of Alphabet (parent of Google) announced they will now censor news.google.com to remove stories from Russian media outlets such as RT.

In that instant, Google showed its defense of net neutrality is shallow if not completely hollow. Google wants other people to be forced to be neutral while preserving a right to censorship (including news and political speech, among the most protected of speech in the United States) for itself.

Google, Facebook and Twitter are not merely platforms for the dissemination of propaganda – they are themselves major propagandists seeking to have others adopt their agendas for their benefit.

Google is not just evil (to re-arrange their motto of “Don’t be evil”) but is acting as a menace to democracy itself.

And what could possibly go wrong with Facebook’s surveillance and analyzing our posts and perhaps discovering that we hold views contrary to the power structure?

Someone should write a book about this – I know, they could title it “1984”!

Bottom Line

Online services including Google (Gmail, Docs), Facebook and Twitter and undoubtedly others are doing the machine equivalent of reading your email and documents, taking notes, and analyzing what you are writing to draw conclusions about you.

What could possibly go wrong?

Researchers analyzing social media comments to evaluate your mental and physical health

It turns out, the comments we make online reveal a lot about us. Researchers are now analyzing online comments for a wide array of predictive patterns and signals, using Internet discussions and social media as sources of constant, easy-to-access information about what’s going on in people’s lives.

 

Their efforts may eventually allow health professionals to monitor patients’ well-being based on their Twitter streams and Facebook entries. Controversially, employers or insurance companies could one day screen job applicants and potential clients based on their social media status updates.

Source: What online comments can reveal about the person behind the keyboard – The Globe and Mail

Researchers say they can predict “personality traits, or their levels of narcissism, Machiavellianism and psychopathy, based on their Twitter histories”.

They say they can now predict the heart-disease mortality rates of an entire community based on the Twitter posts of people living in that community – and this is more accurate that evaluating “smoking rates, the obesity rates, the demographics, the income, the education”.

Twitter launches tweet censorship program

Today, some tweets appearing on Twitter are accompanied by the following warning:

I did a search on Twitter for #DrudgeReport and found several (but not all) tweets mentioning #DrudgeReport had this warning. Drudge Report is a right leaning news aggregator that specializes, typically, in using inflammatory headlines to hook readers.

A search for #DrudgeReport using the “Latest” option presents this:

That is weird – it appears Twitter is fully censoring searches for items related to Drudge Report.

A search for #InfoWars for tweets related to the InfoWars conspiracy theorist displays tweets, without warnings.

A search for proven fake news service #OccupyDemocrats displays a long list of tweets, without warnings.

The algorithm used by Twitter is not clear to the user –  all we can tell at this point is that Twitter has censored Drudge Report.

Twitter, of course, like Facebook, is an unreliable source for any sort of information. Yet Twitter does not display a warning on itself, nor does it display a warning regarding links to Facebook.

Social media, as this blog has extensively documented, is a frictionless platform for the spread of propaganda. This blog, at times, intentionally searches for propaganda on social media to better understand how it works. By establishing a censorship program, Twitter blocks research into the use of their platform for propaganda messaging. Twitter is therefore no longer an information conduit but a publisher that uses censorship to control messaging.  In the blink of an eye, Twitter is itself an official propaganda publisher.

Rather than allow users to think for themselves, Twitter now does the thinking for you and is choosing what you are readily able to see or not see. Do you want to outsource your thinking to an unreliable social media propaganda platform?