News

Science & Tech

Twitter ‘Shadow Banning’ Prominent Republicans

RNC chairwoman Ronna McDaniel at the Republican National Committee’s winter meeting at the Washington Hilton in Washington, February 1, 2018. (Yuri Gripas/Reuters)

Algorithms employed by Twitter to limit the reach of hateful content are preventing the accounts of prominent Republicans, such as RNC chair Ronna Romney McDaniel, from appearing in search results.

The phenomenon known as “shadow banning” has affected several conservative Republican lawmakers, including Representatives Mark Meadows, Jim Jordan, and Matt Gaetz, as well as Donald Trump Jr.’s spokesman Andrew Surabian. It has not extended to their counterparts on the left, whose accounts continue to auto-populate in Twitter search results.

When contacted for comment, a Twitter spokesman told Vice that the shadow bans were the result of algorithms that analyze “account behavior” in order to reduce the visibility of accounts that routinely spew hateful and bigoted content.

The stated goal of the shadow-banning algorithms, according to a May 15 blog post, is to elevate the visibility of accounts that are “contributing to the healthy conversation” in searches and conversation.

“We are aware that some accounts are not automatically populating in our search box and shipping a change to address this,” the spokesman told Vice.

During two Capitol Hill hearings conducted in recent months, Republican lawmakers have argued that the content-filtering systems employed by Facebook and Twitter to elevate the discourse on their platforms have disproportionately silenced conservative voices.

A spokesman for Representative Gaetz suggested the shadow ban may be related to the lawmakers’ aggressive questioning of Twitter executives in a hearing last week. During the hearing, Gaetz argued that platforms like Twitter, which claim to be “neutral publishers” under federal law, should not privilege certain forms of content over others.

“It is curious that these allegations would arise the week following Congressman Gaetz’s heated exchange with Twitter senior executives before the House Judiciary Committee,” the spokesman for Gaetz told Vice.

McDaniel, whose counterpart, DNC chair Tom Perez, has not been affected by shadow banning, demanded an explanation in a statement provided to Vice.

“The notion that social media companies would suppress certain political points of view should concern every American,” McDaniel said. “Twitter owes the public answers to what’s really going on.”

Twitter did not respond to a request for comment in time for publication.

Jack Crowe — Jack Crowe is a news writer at National Review Online.

Most Popular

Politics & Policy

Kat Timpf Chased Out of Brooklyn Bar

Fox News personality and National Review contributor Kat Timpf was forced to leave a bar in Brooklyn over the weekend after a woman she had never met became enraged upon learning she worked in conservative media. Timpf, who has twice previously been harassed while socializing in New York City, first described ... Read More
Film & TV

The Dan Crenshaw Moment

Given the spirit of our times, things could have gone so differently. On November 3, when Saturday Night Live comic Pete Davidson mocked Texas Republican Dan Crenshaw’s eye patch, saying he looked like a “hit man in a porno movie” — then adding, “I know he lost his eye in war or whatever” — it was a ... Read More
U.S.

The Present American Revolution

The revolution of 1776 sought to turn a colony of Great Britain into a new independent republic based on constitutionally protected freedom. It succeeded with the creation of the United States. The failed revolution of 1861, by a slave-owning South declaring its independence from the Union, sought to bifurcate ... Read More
Elections

Florida’s Shame, and Ours

Conspiracy theories are bad for civic life. So are conspiracies. I wonder if there is one mentally normal adult walking these fruited plains -- even the most craven, abject, brain-dead partisan Democrat -- who believes that what has been going on in Broward County, Fla., is anything other than a brazen ... Read More
Elections

There’s No ‘Neo-Jim Crow’ in Georgia

In the overtime of the 2018 elections, the Left can’t decide whether it opposes casting doubt on election results or insists on it. In the case of the Georgia gubernatorial election, narrowly lost by African-American activist Stacey Abrams, it’s unquestionably the latter. A cottage industry has grown up ... Read More
Economy & Business

Virginia Gives Away the Store to Amazon

Amazon’s deal with the Virginia state government to put part of their new headquarters in Crystal City is now official, and the details are dribbling out. Just about all of them are bad. Begin with the otherworldly claim that “regional and local transit systems have significant unused capacity, even during ... Read More