Twitter’s Denial of Bias Still Doesn’t Ring True

Jack Dorsey/PHOTO: magerleagues (CC)

Perhaps the leaders of Silicon Valley’s major Internet-based tech companies be more credible if they heeded their conservative-leaning employees, who feel marginalized and muted, because of the leftist cultures they have cultivated in their workplaces.

And maybe these executives would be taken more seriously if they would simply stop lying – especially in places such as before Congressional committees – by saying they don’t “intentionally” impose policies that censor those on the right.

Because that is exactly what they do.

Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey, after a recent campaign in which he made himself available to conservatives (including Sean Hannity) to discuss their grievances about restriction of their voices, admitted in an interview last week that his conservative employees don’t feel comfortable expressing themselves at the office.

“We have a lot of conservative-leaning folks in the company as well, and to be honest, they don’t feel safe to express their opinions at the company,” Dorsey told New York University journalism professor Jay Rosen in a podcast for Recode. “They do feel silenced by just the general swirl of what they perceive to be the broader percentage of leanings within the company, and I don’t think that’s fair or right. We should make sure that everyone feels safe to express themselves within the company, no matter where they come from and what their background is.”

Unfortunately that is the monoculture Dorsey and his peers at companies like Facebook, Google and Apple have instilled. And because the few conservatives they employ are intimidated about their views and their speech, Twitter’s leftist enforcers are empowered to impose their views upon those who utilize the service. This is deadly for a company that has been built to be the “public square” of discussion on the Internet.

And despite Dorsey’s acknowledgement of the problem, he insists Twitter doesn’t censor or shadow ban (which is the practice of making people you want to follow disappear from your newsfeed) conservatives.

Twitter “does not use political ideology to make any decisions, whether related to ranking content on our service or how we enforce our rules,” Dorsey told the House Committee on Energy and Commerce earlier this month. “We believe strongly in being impartial, and we strive to enforce our rules impartially.”

That claim has already been exposed as false, after James O’Keefe produced videos in January that showed Twitter employees on camera admitting that they do shadow ban. How much “striving” toward impartiality can there be when the liberals aren’t afraid to admit they censor, while the conservatives within their own walls fear speaking their minds?

The truth is the outright bias has leaked into the management of Twitter’s platform for a long time. House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy of California last month called out Dorsey for the shadow banning of several Republicans, including party chairwoman Ronna McDaniel and Rep. Devin Nunes, chairman of the House Intelligence Committee.

“Recently we learned that Twitter limited the visibility of certain conservative accounts, so that some of their tweets did not appear in searches and their accounts were more difficult to find through the search feature,” McCarthy wrote in a letter to Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Greg Walden. “This ‘shadow ban’ made it harder for users to get information about certain public officials—or even to learn that their social media presence existed.”

The bias extends to promotions for Tweeters who desire to pay to deliver their messages to a broader audience. Pro-life group Live Action has been prevented from advertising any posts that violate Twitter’s sensitive content policy, which forbids “inflammatory or provocative content which is likely to evoke a strong negative reaction.” According to Live Action president Lila Rose, the offending content included images such as “our undercover investigations into the abortion industry, tweets calling for the end of taxpayer funding for Planned Parenthood, and any ultrasound images of preborn children.”

And last October Twitter prevented Republican Rep. Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee from paying to expand her audience to a tweet about her work fighting Planned Parenthood and how “we stopped the sale of baby body parts, thank God.” The company told her the reference to fetal tissue was, as with Live Action, “deemed an inflammatory statement that is likely to evoke a strong negative reaction.” She was told she could promote her ad if she removed the “offending” remark, which she resisted. Ultimately Twitter relented and allowed her to boost the tweet.

The censorship isn’t limited to the abortion issue, either. Last week the Center for Immigration Studies said Twitter would not allow the organization to make a paid boost for a tweet that included the term “illegal aliens,” because of a violation of its “hateful content” policy. Another term, “criminal aliens,” was also denied.

“However,” CIS tweeted, “the phrase ‘illegal aliens’ has been used in both federal law and by the Supreme Court.”

Twitter later informed Fox News the decision was a mistake, and overturned it.

Meanwhile Planned Parenthood and pro-open borders groups promote their messages on Twitter freely. You rarely, if ever, hear complaints from the left about censorship on the platform. It is always conservatives who must fight through the gatekeepers, make appeals, and send repeated emails in order to be seen and heard.

This is because of the culture created and entrenched at Twitter. The Left is the judge, jury, and executioner, and conservatives must fight that uphill battle repeatedly.

This week Twitter announced it would allow users to change settings on their accounts to allow them to see those they follow in reverse chronological order again. Two years ago that setting had been changed to default to emphasize popular tweets and those of alleged “greatest interest” to followers.

That could improve the experience, but it still doesn’t address the persistent shadow banning and advertising bias.