It’s an understatement to say that Elon Musk’s recent decision to become Twitter’s largest shareholder has caused an epic triggering on the left and excitement on the right, with the former heartbroken over the strong possibility that the new sheriff in town will push for fewer restrictions on speech leftists find “offensive” and the latter being SO ready for it.
In the aftermath of his move, Musk, who is now also a board of directors member, let it be known he was interested in thoughts on an edit button for Twitter – which has been a longstanding request among the Twitter faithful. More importantly, he also noted he was “looking forward” to making “significant improvements” in Twitter in the months ahead.
Not long after Musk’s declaration came suggestions from conservatives and other critics of Twitter policies as to what changes he should consider making in order to make Twitter a more user-friendly, less suppressive platform.
Some of the ideas were to remove Donald Trump’s ban as a major good-faith gesture to let users know he wasn’t just hearing what people were saying but that he was actually listening. Other suggestions included changes to Twitter’s algorithm methods, which many feel is one way they use to covertly suppress accounts and content they don’t like.
Along with those suggestions have been requests for “tweaks” (big ones) to Twitter’s one-sided content moderation policies, the heavy-handedness of which was we saw most notably in October 2020 as Twitter shut down the NY Post’s account for the crime of taking a deep dive into the emails found on Hunter Biden’s laptop.
One I haven’t seen talked about much, though, is one that I feel could have the impact of immediately leveling the playing field on Twitter, and that is for Twitter to finally – once and for all, with no turning back – end the practice of shadowbanning.
Shadowbanning, for those unfamiliar with the term, is what happens when your account’s content is suppressed from appearing in hashtags and in people’s main feeds courtesy of their algorithm. You can still post to your heart’s content, but unless an account with a huge follower count happens to see your tweet and RTs it, the engagement on your tweets is severely limited.
If one has a low follower count – perhaps in the hundreds, it’s not as noticeable, but when you get up into the thousands and then the tens of thousands and even higher in terms of followers, when you see a tiny number of likes, RTs, and/or comments on your stuff, the likelihood is that you’ve been at least partially if not fully shadowbanned.
Independent journalist/YouTuber Tim Pool pointed this out Friday about Bill Maher’s account:
With nearly 11M followers Bill Maher gets 37k views and only a couple dozen engagements
How do such large accounts have almost no engagement?
Seems like its all fake https://t.co/NPGgBRnLOh
— Tim Pool (@Timcast) April 8, 2022
I have personal experience dealing with this. It’s been happening to me for years (though Twitter has long denied the practice, and when I’ve used various online tools to check to see if I’ve been shadowbanned, they say I haven’t been). But Twitter’s suppression tactics have kept my tweets from being seen by a large portion of my followers, which in turn obviously limits their ability to share them with their followers.
As a result, I’ve also been stuck in the 34-35,000 range with followers for at least five years now despite my frequent participation. It’s what happens when people don’t see your stuff – or when very few people do. In fact, I get DMs and emails from time to time from people telling me they haven’t seen my tweets on their feeds in ages.
This is one of those “first world problems,” to be sure, but when you write for a living and part of your job is to amplify your posts on social media, being prevented from reaching a larger audience because you’ve fauxfended the Twitter Powers That Be is a pretty big deal. I’ve been able to work around my shadowban with some success, but life would be much easier for me and everyone else this has happened to if it was lifted. It would allow users like me to have the wider visibility they’ve earned and to be able to better compete on a more level Twitter playing field.
Ironically, in a tweet complaining about my being shadowbanned, my tweet got almost no engagement:
— Sister Toldjah 😁 (@sistertoldjah) April 8, 2022
That said, changes may already be happening:
In the last 24 hours I've added nearly 8,000 new Twitter followers. Has @elonmusk made them change their algorithms already? Twitter whacked more than 10K from me a year ago. And seems to have been shadow-banning me ever since. Wondering what's going on…
— Eric Metaxas (@ericmetaxas) April 7, 2022
Could be merely coincidental, or maybe not. Whatever the case may be, my plan is to once a day post a plea directly to Elon Musk to lift my shadowban and those of other conservatives whose content is being hidden simply because Twitter is run by (former) Democrat operatives who like to play games with people’s livelihoods and/or their ability to express themselves.