Before billionaire Elon Musk bought Twitter, several teams at the social media giant were authorized to read ‘direct messages’ or DMs of users, revealed the second volume of its internal documents released on Friday.
Twitter’s DM feature lets users chat with other account holders on the platform. Officially, the company has so far maintained that no one except for the two accounts exchanging messages could read their online conversation.
The second volume of ‘Twitter Files’ also revealed that apart from reading users’ DMs, some Twitter teams also secretly prepared blacklists, prevented tweets that they did not like from trending, and curtailed the visibility of certain posts and even the entire accounts.
They also prevented certain topics from appearing in Twitter trends.
THREAD: THE TWITTER FILES PART TWO.
TWITTER’S SECRET BLACKLISTS.
— Bari Weiss (@bariweiss) December 9, 2022
The second part of ‘Twitter Files’ was released by journalist Bari Weiss and was endorsed by CEO Musk who retweeted her post and wrote: “The Twitter Files, Part Deux!!”
The social media giant, which once declared its mission of “giving everyone the power to create and share ideas and information instantly without barriers”, targeted conservation accounts on the platform selectively, the investigation revealed.
“Take, for example, Stanford’s Dr. Jay Bhattacharya (@DrJBhattacharya) who argued that Covid lockdowns would harm children. Twitter secretly placed him on a “Trends Blacklist,” which prevented his tweets from trending,” the journalist wrote in a series of tweets.
However, Twitter never admitted to these malpractices.
In a blog written by Twitter’s then legal, policy and trust & safety lead Vijaya Gadde and Product Lead Kayvon Beykpour, the company said: “We do not shadow ban. And we certainly don’t shadow ban based on political viewpoints or ideology.”
According to the Twitter Files investigation, a Twitter employee admitted that “normal people” were not aware of these practices. “We control visibility quite a bit. And we control the amplification of your content quite a bit. And normal people do not know how much we do,” a Twitter engineer told the journalist.
After buying Twitter for $44 billion in October this year, Musk has set out on an ambitious plan to improve transparency in the company’s operation in order to make it a “public town square” in the true sense and ensure freedom of speech on the platform.
However, Musk has announced to curtail the reach of “negative” and hateful tweets.
“New Twitter policy is freedom of speech, but not freedom of reach. Negative/hate tweets will be max deboosted & demonetized, so no ads or other revenue to Twitter. You won’t find the tweet unless you specifically seek it out, which is no different from the rest of the Internet,” he tweeted last month.