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Second Twitter files drop backfires on Elon Musk

The Independent logo The Independent 2022-12-10 Graeme Massie
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A second edition of the “Twitter Files” claimed to reveal that the company has “secret blacklists”, which observers say sound highly similar to the billionaire’s own policies.

Former New York Times opinion columnist Bari Weiss presented a series of cases in which Twitter has limited the distribution and recommendation of certain tweets.

In a series of tweets, she explained the previous management’s position of reducing the visibility of Twitter users who violated company policies and highlighted conservative activist Charlie Kirk and Chaya Raichik, who operates the Libsoftiktok account as examples of those punished by the company.

Ms Weiss wrote in the 30-tweet thread that Twitter had a team of employees who built blacklists, prevented particular tweets from trending and limited the visibility of topics or accounts.

Mr Musk reluctantly bought the company for $44bn and promised to protect free speech on the platform at all costs, allowing the return of banned users such as former president Donald Trump.

And last month, as advertisers fled from Twitter amid uncertainty on content moderation as thousands of members of staff were fired, Mr Musk insisted that the company was still committed to preventing certain tweets from being amplified.

“New Twitter policy is freedom of speech, but not freedom of reach,” Mr Musk tweeted last month.

“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 rest of Internet.”

The second instalment of Twitter Files, came after newsletter author Matt Taibbi wrote about the ways in which Twitter limited access to a New York Post article on Hunter Biden’s laptop, weeks before the 2020 presidential election won by his father, Joe Biden.

Following Weiss’s report, Mr Musk tweeted, “Twitter is working on a software update that will show your true account status, so you know clearly if you’ve been shadowbanned, the reason why and how to appeal.”

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