Twitter is a massive social media platform. Its users share short messages with links, pictures, and memes, building a network of followers who see these messages. Followers repost the messages they like, causing many to go viral. The hive-mind nature of the platform keeps Twitter users seriously up to date and knowledgeable about widely followed subjects like the recent election.
Twitter’s revenue comes from selling advertising shown to its users. These users create valuable content, which draws in new users. In most media, the content creators are highly valued and paid accordingly. Not so on Twitter. It’s hard work to build a following. Producing interesting messages takes work and talent. Amazingly, Twitter users do this for free, because it’s fulfilling to build a following and the following is valuable.
Not only that, but these very users are the target of the advertisers who pay Twitter. You would think Twitter would, accordingly, treat this user base with the utmost respect. So, how does Twitter treats its valuable user base? Could the way Twitter treats its users be the real reason for Twitter’s financial struggles?
Twitter’s management apparently sees nothing wrong with treating users differently if they disagree with their leftist political viewpoint. There is also evidence that Twitter inhibits criticism from its users. Finally, Twitter exerts control over the tweets seen by its users behind a secret “Best Tweets” algorithm. Twitter’s secret best tweets algorithm deserves significant attention! Some of these activities could have serious legal consequences. At minimum, they are destructive of Twitter’s profitability.
I originally joined Twitter in August of 2016. While I had, in the past, ridiculed people who spent large amounts of time on social media, I confess being driven to these very platforms by the legacy media. As a Trump supporter, the negative coverage of the mainstream news pushed me to join Twitter, looking for more positive coverage. Twitter was filled with Trump supporters sharing links to fairer coverage. However, Twitter wasn’t particularly friendly to the people posting pro-Trump tweets.
Twitter banned Milo Yiannopoulus, a rising star of the Right, just before I joined. I listened to Milo’s talks and found him hugely entertaining. Apparently Milo was banned for saying a black actress looked like a man. They also banned Ricky Vaughn, Vox Day and others. Yet there were numerous tweets on the Left, saying things much more offensive than anything said by the banned personalities.
SIGN UP FOR OUR NEWSLETTER The justification for the suspension is currently unknown, although it could be as a result of Milo’s run-in with Ghostbusters actress Leslie Jones on the site. Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey publicly reached out to Jones late on Monday evening after she complained about “abuse” on the platform.
Banning populist or right-leaning personalities from Twitter is just plain bad business. As a publicly traded company (NYSE), Twitter has an obligation to its shareholders. Popular posters generate a lot of advertising income; banning them clearly reduces Twitter’s revenue. Angering those who follow the banned posters also reduces corporate revenue, as these people will reduce their use of the platform. Shouldn’t shareholders be informed of the company’s obvious profit-destroying behavior?
In addition, these posters were banned without due process. The banned personalities had built large followings. This is something of great value to them, something they worked hard for. Isn’t summarily quashing these followings tantamount to theft?
President Trump’s tweets on Twitter have generated massive attention. He has millions of followers, the vast majority of whom support him to some degree—why would they follow him otherwise? Before Trump won the election, the vast majority of the replies to his tweets were positive. Soon after he won the election, this flipped. Now the vast majority of the replies to his tweets are very negative. How is this possible without Twitter’s intervention?
Another example of Twitter’s attempt to tip the scales politically is with hashtags. A hashtag denotes a subject that people are tweeting about. For example, during the campaign, one of the pro-Trump hashtags was #DrainTheSwamp. Twitter informs its users on trending hashtags. When a hashtag trends, it helps spread information about that subject. Twitter provides auto-fill on trending hashtags. However, many times I found that the auto-fill provided for pro-Trump hashtags was wrong. For example, the auto-fill for #DrainTheSwamp might be #DrainTheSwim or something equally erroneous. Apparently Twitter didn’t want these hashtags to trend. This is insanely petty. It is also so obvious, that anyone who experienced it would question Twitter’s corporate character.
I wanted people to know that by censoring popular right leaning posters Twitter was hurting their stockholders. I started tweeting Twitter board members, reminding them that they had a fiduciary responsibility to their shareholders. Twitter’s censoring was destroying its profits. Not once did a board member reply. Given the anger I knew many felt, this was quite surprising to me.
Even more surprising to me was the lack of response from my followers to my tweets addressing Twitter’s board. Twitter’s behavior in banning popular posters for their political beliefs infuriated me! I was absolutely certain many of my followers felt the same way I did. Was Twitter censoring anti-Twitter tweets?
I received a surprising answer. My notifications (various types of responses to tweets) dropped significantly, like 80% or more. So-called “deplorable” Trump supporters call this “shadow banning.” I was horrified. I even created a new log-in and started over with no followers (it takes a lot of work to generate followers). Then I decided to apologize, tweeting that I promised not to criticize Twitter any more. Soon I was back to receiving my normal notifications. How could I not be disturbed?
These experiences made me totally mistrust Twitter. Soon enough my notifications dried up again. This time it seemed more related to the subject matter of my posts rather than to my criticism of the company. My posts regarding the Wikileaks revelations related to bizarre rituals and indications of pedophilic behavior from Podesta’s emails seemed to draw Twitter’s ire. My anti-Saudi posts didn’t help either (not surprising, given that Twitter’s largest shareholder is Saudi Prince Alaweed).
A number of Trump supporters have complained about shadow banning. I personally think a better description of what Twitter does is throttling. They show your tweets only to users with few followers, so it becomes very difficult for your tweets to circulate.
Scott Adams pointed out this video that suggests Twitter is using deep analytics to hide the posts of some users from the “power users” among their followers: They basically cut them off.
Twitter, of course, denies that it is doing any such thing. Dilbert cartoonist Scott Adams is currently investigating whether he is being throttled for his pro-Trump stance. His analytics showed a sharp drop-off in his views.
Because of the suspected throttling, I joined Gab, a pro-Free Speech Twitter alternative. I grew my followers much faster on Gab than on Twitter. I’m not talking 20% or 30%. I grew my followers nearly 300% faster on Gab (relative to the number of posts). Given that Twitter is so much larger building followers on Twitter should be easier. I spent some time thinking about this phenomenon. My followers had similar political viewpoints on both platforms, so the difference couldn’t have been due to politics.
Why was building followers so much easier on Gab? I believe the answer is related to Twitter’s “Best Tweets” algorithm. Gab actually shows your tweets to all the logged-in followers and allows you to load more if you want to go back in time. Twitter does something very different.
When you log in to Twitter, you soon see a rising number in the middle of the page (“View ### New Tweets”), indicating the quantity of new tweets from people you follow. There are a lot of interesting people to follow on Twitter, so for me, the number builds fairly quickly. After a short period of time, I might have over 1000 new tweets to see. If I click to view those tweets, Twitter will show me only about 200 of them. No matter what I do, I can’t see any more. Twitter is censoring the vast majority of tweets from the people you have chosen to follow. Twitter has an algorithm that chooses the tweets you are allowed to see. They claim their algorithm is choosing the best tweets.
What dirty secrets is Twitter hiding in their algorithm? Why is their algorithm secret? Why don’t they let the user choose to see all the tweets? Are they censoring tweets critical of themselves? How about tweets critical of the Saudis? What other special interests are hiding in Twitter’s mysterious algorithm? Are new posters being punished relative to more established posters? Do you really want to join Twitter and have to battle Twitter’s secret algorithm to build your followers?
Is Twitter’s behavior respectful of its user community? Wait it gets worse! Despite Twitter censoring, the amount of information available using social media is stunning. What I learned about Obama and Hillary and their criminality during the campaign made me frightened for the future of our country. When people asked me where they could find this information, I decided to create a website that would offer much of this information in one place.
I looked forward to using Twitter as an advertising platform for my website because I could choose the exact people who would be most interested. I started with a small ad buy. I selected a number of widely followed pro-Trump posters and directed Twitter to show my ad to their followers. This is all done with computers; no human intervention. I paid for the ad campaign and was excited to watch it. Nothing happened. Then I saw a notification that my ad campaign was ineligible.
When I clicked on the notice, it suggested I read the “Terms of Service” link, which was a bunch of gobbledygook. It also gave an email for problems, promising to respond in one business day. I emailed twice, with no response in over three weeks. Evidently, Twitter refused an ad for a pro-Trump pro-Western Civilization website, with no recourse and no explanation.
I still don’t know the reason for my lack of eligibility. There was no human intervention. My ad buy was much too small. Twitter denies that they throttle users they don’t like politically. With no human involvement from Twitter on my ad, my account must have already been restricted (throttled). Isn’t it fraudulent for Twitter to throttle certain users without informing them?
More importantly, however, this is America. Twitter is refusing to take money from a Pro-Trump website, despite the fact that Donald Trump is the duly elected President of our country. Twitter is trying to deny me the right of Free Speech. Free Speech is enshrined in the First Amendment for a very good reason. Without Free Speech, we have tyranny and a crumbling of civilization. What kind of insane fascism justifies this censorship in the minds of the Twitter social justice warriors?
What are the implications of Twitter’s conduct? Twitter’s treatment of its valuable users is certain to cause a hemorrhaging in revenue over the long term (sorry Prince Alaweed). New users should be especially wary of posting on Twitter, given the obstacles that Twitter’s secret algorithm puts in their path. Shouldn’t users demand that Twitter reveal this algorithm that chooses which tweets you are allowed to see? How can anyone want to participate on a platform where a person hiding behind a screen has declared himself the “Wizard of Best Tweets”? Why would a user community put up with censoring tweets that they chose to see?
Of course, there are serious legal implications for Twitter’s behavior. Many people on the Right say that Twitter is a private company and they can do what they want. That’s wrong; they are a public company. Public companies have a fiduciary responsibility to their stockholders. Twitter’s punishment of Right-leaning posters (which has ramped up since the election) is costing the company serious revenue. At the very least, stockholders have a right to know that this action is being taken, and given a business reason for these activities. Is there a big pay day waiting for an enterprising Class Action attorney willing to challenge the social media company on behalf of its shareholders?
Secondly, banned posters have had something of value stolen from them without warning or due process. This also has the potential to be a significant Class Action suit, since the value of what was stolen is significant.
In addition, if proven, the “shadow banning” or “throttling” is fraudulent. This is carried out without informing the users what has been done or why. This isn’t just a civil matter; this is a criminal matter. Twitter may be damaging certain users without informing them, although Twitter denies this. Since the motivation for this fraudulent behavior is political, and since Twitter’s favored candidate lost the election, it should be possible, at least, to investigate this.
Because of the massive size of Twitter’s platform, the anti-trust implications of Twitter blatantly favoring one political party are undeniable. The Left is always willing to use whatever means necessary to further their political ends. Twitter’s platform is too powerful to allow them to steal it for the sole use of the Left. Don’t you think the Justice Department should investigate Twitter on anti-trust grounds?
The way Twitter treats its user community is terrible business practice. The market will render its verdict on this practice soon enough. The bigger issue relates to the size of Twitter’s platform and the censoring behavior that Twitter has undertaken. Free speech was enshrined in The Bill of Rights as the very first item. How many soldiers died fighting to protect this right? Have we as Americans already forgotten the values that made this country a beacon for the rest of the world? Doesn’t Twitter needs to be challenged in every way possible to fight this fascist attempt at censorship? Please spread this link on social media!