A breaking report today by non-profit investigative agency Project Veritas reveals a former Twitter software engineer admitting that the social media company bans political dissidents. The announcement comes from two anonymous undercover journalists who interviewed a former employee Conrado Miranda, presumably over dinner. The interviews follow similarly alarming news discovered by Project Veritas that Twitter users’ private messages have been disclosed to US governing agencies, that “shadow banning” is a very real course of action, and that the social media giant employs hundreds of “virtual accounts” to monitor users and to anonymously sell their data to advertisers. The PV journalists asked Miranda direct questions about the company’s actions regarding banning political accounts in both China and Iran, and the former engineer responded, “Yeah. … Yeah, we do that a lot for China.”
In the case of China, the reasoning for Twitter banning accounts is twofold: the Chinese government already blocks Twitter within its borders, and political dissidents (nicknamed the “good guys”) retaliate in the form of hacking. With Twitter assailed from both directions, Miranda says that company responds by banning accounts. Although Twitter is prohibited by the Chinese government, an estimated ten million people actively use the service by means of proxy servers. Miranda pointed out that the “good guys” attack Twitter in response to the Chinese government attempting to crack down on or request deletion of certain accounts.
Project Veritas’ investigations of Twitter’s unwritten policies shed light on some important issues. The company has been accused of blatant and shadow banning of accounts for some time, now, and with former employees admitting complicity, it appears Twitter may be investigated more closely. In an era of free speech and social media at the fingertips of billions of people, such a possibility is sure to cause alarm. It is important, however, to remember that Twitter has made no official admission of the evidence found by PV. Furthermore, the company uses artificial intelligence to run much of its algorithms based on user interests, preferences, and blocked accounts and phrases. The social media titan also attempts to empower its users to choose to their own content and to block offensive material. The discovery by Project Veritas may prove to be a significant discovery, or maybe the banned accounts are simply the result of Twitter’s artificial intelligence.