The president’s latest Twitter target is Twitter itself. This morning, Trump took to the platform to call out the alleged “shadow banning” of Republican users. It’s the latest in long standing conservative and right-wing complaints regarding perceived unfair treatment at the hands of social media platforms.
This latest round stems, in part, from a recent Vice story highlighting Twitter’s removal of certain users — including Republican Party chair Ronna McDaniel — from autofill search results.
“The notion that social media companies would suppress certain political points of view should concern every American,” McDaniel told Vice. “Twitter owes the public answers to what’s really going on.”
“We are aware that some accounts are not automatically populating in our search box and shipping a change to address this,” the company wrote in response. “I’d emphasize that our technology is based on account *behavior* not the content of Tweets.”
The company didn’t specify, however, why the change appears to be disproportionately impacting Republicans, though it it did reference a recent blog post highlighting recent policy changes.
“One important issue we’ve been working to address is what some might refer to as ‘trolls,’ ” it wrote. “To put this in context, fewer than one percent of accounts make up the majority of accounts reported for abuse, but a lot of what’s reported does not violate our rules. While still a small overall number, these accounts have a disproportionately large – and negative – impact on people’s experience on Twitter.”
In a tweet this morning, Trump promised further examination of the issue. “Twitter ‘SHADOW BANNING’ prominent Republicans,” he wrote. “Not good. We will look into this discriminatory and illegal practice at once! Many complaints.”
He didn’t spell out a course of action. That’s never really been his Twitter M.O. The site long served as a platform for his own venting/flame fanning, rather than outlining specific strategy. Congress has put various social media platforms in the hot seat of late, however, most notably Facebook, which found Mark Zuckerberg sitting through House and Senate hearings.
Twitter product lead Kayvon Beykpour took to the platform in an attempt to further break down Twitter policy. “To be clear, our behavioral ranking doesn’t make judgements based on political views or the substance of tweets,” he wrote. “Some accounts weren’t being auto-suggested even when people were searching for their specific name. Our usage of the behavior signals within search was causing this to happen & making search results seem inaccurate. We’re making a change today that will improve this.”
CEO Jack Dorsey echoed the comments, writing, “It suffices to say we have a lot more work to do to earn people’s trust on how we work.”