by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
Brittany Bernstein of National Review Online writes that mainstream media outlets should ask serious questions about their own behavior in recent years.
The first installment of the “Twitter Files” left the media to confront (or avoid) their shameful silence on the Hunter Biden story. The second part offered another chance for retrospection, this time on the yearslong media campaign to paint conservatives as conspiracy theorists for daring to notice that Twitter was shadow-banning right-wing voices.
For years, Twitter executives and journalists dismissed the shadow-banning complaints. Documents revealed by journalist Bari Weiss on Thursday proved the so-called “conspiracy theorists” were right all along.
The documents reveal the platform kept “secret blacklists” that targeted prominent right-wing commentators, including Dan Bongino, who was placed on a “search blacklist,” and Turning Point USA’s Charlie Kirk, who was given a “Do Not Amplify” label.
Stanford professor and epidemiologist Jay Bhattacharya was added to Twitter’s “trends blacklist” for speaking critically of Covid-19 lockdowns.
Bhattacharya coauthored the Great Barrington Declaration, an open letter from infectious-disease epidemiologists and public-health scientists expressing “grave concerns about the damaging physical and mental health impacts of the prevailing COVID-19 policies.” The declaration turned out to be quite prescient, but Twitter users were deprived of this author’s insights based on the whims of tech executives who lack his expertise in public health. In a show of transparency, Twitter’s new CEO Elon Musk invited Bhattacharya to the company’s headquarters over the weekend to learn more about the obscure bureaucratic processes that landed him on the naughty list.
Weiss reported “that teams of Twitter employees build blacklists, prevent disfavored tweets from trending, and actively limit the visibility of entire accounts or even trending topics—all in secret, without informing users.”
Internally, company executives called the practice “visibility filtering,” or “VF,” Weiss reported.
“Think about visibility filtering as being a way for us to suppress what people see to different levels. It’s a very powerful tool,” a senior Twitter employee told Weiss