If a geek in his twenties working for any of the Big Tech social media companies has the power to make an American secretly invisible to others on the platform, there’s no doubt something is not right.
Now that Elon Musk hides behind his algorithms’ mysterious ways of prioritizing content, with internal evidence of deliberate silencing of a range of conservative voices coming to light, the unjustified access of big tech to censorship is only creating more distrust.
Each of the social media platforms claims that if their proprietary algorithms are disclosed to others, it will harm their competitive value in the marketplace. Big Tech hides behind the mystery of its algorithm and rarely offers real insight into how it decides who will be seen by others and who will be silenced with the direct keystroke of a tech worker hiding behind a screen.
While Musk has promised to reveal when a Twitter account is shadow-banned, this leaves many wondering who might have been censored in the past few years.
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What is shadow ban?
A “shadow ban” is to block or partially block someone’s posts and comments online without notifying the other party that they have been silenced. When you’re shadow-banned, you’ll probably never find out until someone who normally deals with your posts informs you that they’re no longer receiving anything from you.
The shadow ban first began in the 90s, when popular electronic bulletin boards deemed it necessary to silence the words of harmful voices on their platforms. Most of the time, it was a repetitively annoying spammer who annoyed or harmed others by flooding the system with nonsense or a multitude of messages intended to drown out everyone else’s voice.
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Today, every social media company censors voices. Silencing voices on the Internet may have started for altruistic reasons, and today it has expanded to outright censorship of ordinary Americans who simply express conflicting or unpopular views. Freedom of speech has turned into freedom of silencing, as there are few regulations that prevent big tech from behaving like a big bully blocking whatever it chooses.
Codewords of shadow ban
Shadow ban enforcement consists of a few words designed to sound mechanically harmless. When you read any of the following, it’s just another way of reducing freedom of expression.
- ghost ban
- Buff reduction
- Hell ban
- Sort down
- Flexible ban
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How can you find out if you’re shadow banned on Twitter?
- Sign out of your Twitter account
- Start a private web browser, usually by clicking “file”, then “new incognito browser”, “new private window” or the like.
- go https://twitter.com/discover To open a search page on Twitter
- Type “from:username” in the search field. For example I would put “from:cyberguy” for me
- If the results include several or none of your posts and replies, you’re shadow banned. If you see results with your Twitter name, including your replies, you’re probably not getting overshadowed.
In addition to these easy steps above, there are websites that claim to quickly test whether you are shadow-banned on Twitter. Below are the results when I post my Twitter account name @CyberGuy to such a site.
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