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So What Exactly Is 'Shadow Banning'?

Trump says White House will look into whether Twitter is treating conservatives unfairly
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 26, 2018 11:05 AM CDT
President Trump gestures to music as he arrives to speak to the Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States National Convention Tuesday in Kansas City, Mo.   (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

(Newser) – President Trump said Thursday the White House will look into complaints that Twitter is treating conservatives unfairly by limiting their voice on the platform. "Twitter 'SHADOW BANNING' prominent Republicans," he tweeted. "Not good. We will look into this discriminatory and illegal practice at once! Many complaints." The tweet comes after reports surfaced about the practice and Twitter promised to investigate. Details of what's happening, including what is broadly meant by "shadow banning":

  • A definition: "Shadow banning" means punishing a user by making his posts visible only to himself, explains Brian Feldman at New York. The idea is that the user will then get tired of posting and leave voluntarily because of a lack of interaction. Under this definition, that's not really what was happening as described by a Vice News article, which has been seized on by Republicans and apparently the president himself. (No, "Twitter Is Not 'Shadow Banning' Republicans" is the New York headline.)
  • The Vice story: On Wednesday, the news outlet reported that the names of several big-name figures on the right no longer auto-populated in the site's popular drop-down search box, and it used the term "shadow banning" in its original headline. Those names included RNC Chair Ronna McDaniel, a number of conservative congressmen (including Jim Jordan and Matt Gaetz), and the spokesman for Donald Trump Jr. However, the story said the same didn't apply for well-known liberal figures and lawmakers, with none of the 78 members of the Progressive Caucus affected. (An update to the story says the "shadow ban" problem appears to have been fixed.)

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