Twitter denies ‘shadow banning’ US politicians

Twitter has denied secretly banning conservative politicians in the US, after an article accused it of political bias.

An article in Vice magazine reported how a number of accounts belonging to prominent Republicans were not being "auto-suggested" when Twitter users typed them into the platform's search tool.

Twitter said it "identified an issue where some accounts weren't auto-suggested in search even when people were searching for their specific name" and fixed it.

In a blog post, Twitter's product lead Kayvon Beykpour and its legal lead Vijaya Gadde said: "To be clear, this only impacted our search auto-suggestions.

"The accounts, their tweets and surrounding conversation about those accounts were showing up in search results. As of yesterday afternoon, this issue was resolved."

They said that "hundreds of thousands of accounts were impacted by this issue," but the impact "was not limited to a certain political affiliation or geography".

Twitter specifically stressed that some Democratic politicians were also not showing up with search auto-suggestions.

The company added that it believes more Republican representatives may have been impacted due to the way other people were interacting with these accounts.

"There are communities that try to boost each other's presence on the platform through coordinated engagement," the company wrote, and it uses this kind of activity as a way to rank the value of the "healthy conversation" which it wants to promote.

More from Science & Tech

The article in Vice magazine mischaracterised the auto-suggestions bug as "shadow banning", which Twitter said it does not do.

Shadow banning, which takes place on social media platforms such as Reddit, involves banning an account but allowing it to continue to post – unaware that nobody else can see their material.

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