August 1, 2018

Twitter Accused of 'Shadow Banning' Republicans

We're officially on Insta! Did I throw on a blazer at 5 am for all you lovely people? You bet I did!

Last week, Vice reported that “Twitter is limiting the visibility of prominent Republicans in search results — a technique known as ‘shadow banning’ — in what it says is a side effect of its attempts to improve the quality of discourse on the platform.” The story has since been updated to note that “Twitter appears to have adjusted its platform overnight to no longer limit the visibility of some prominent Republicans in its search results.” (Vice)

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The left does not think this is particularly newsworthy.

“The first thing to note about this story is that it begins and ends with which accounts are suggested when one begins typing in a name in the Twitter search box. That’s it. The very worst thing Twitter can be accused of here is, in some cases, making you spell out some people’s full names if you wanted to read their tweets.”

The Verge

It’s not one’s political views, but rather your behavior on the platform that determines the ranking: “If you are blocked a lot or tweet at a lot of accounts you don’t follow, for example, Twitter raises an eyebrow. Reading between the lines... it’s those users who are being flagged by the site’s ‘quality filter’ and, therefore, may be downplayed in search.”

Washington Post

An Alabama Doctor writes that one of her patients “was 22 weeks pregnant and had a condition called preeclampsia, which is when high blood pressure puts the health of the mother and baby at risk and can result in death. The only option in that situation was to immediately deliver. The patient understood the high stakes and instead decided to end her pregnancy. But it took time (which we did not have) to convince the hospital and other physicians that this was the correct course of action because of the already hostile climate for abortion… I fear what could happen to women in this situation if the [new] law and its criminal penalties go into effect. Physicians will hesitate in how to care for complex health situations -- and Alabama is already a state with an unconscionably high maternal mortality rate.”
Yashica Robinson, CNN

Regarding the deployment of an aircraft carrier and bombers, many note that the US “has a long history of provoking, instigating, or launching wars based on dubious, flimsy, or manufactured threats… The most egregious case was the U.S. invasion of Iraq, in 2003, which was based on bad intelligence that Baghdad had active weapons-of-mass-destruction programs. The repercussions are still playing out sixteen years (and more than four thousand American deaths) later… The sense of foreboding is tangible.”
Robin Wright, The New Yorker

Trump's “goal, it seems, is to put so much pressure on Tehran that it has no choice but to completely change its behavior — but he could end up leading the countries to the brink of war in the process… Now is typically the time when cooler heads prevail, but it’s unclear if there are cooler heads around… It’s hard to overstate how avoidable this situation was.”
Alex Ward, Vox

“In theory, there’s no reason why a bad businessman can’t go on to become a good president. But a commander-in-chief whose signature legislative achievement expanded tax loopholes that he himself describes as grossly unfair is pretty much a bad president, by definition.”
Eric Levitz, New York Magazine

The right is disturbed by the revelations and finds Twitter’s response underwhelming.

The right is disturbed by the revelations and finds Twitter’s response underwhelming.

“While social media giants like Twitter and Facebook insist that these are just misapplications of their algorithms, the algorithms themselves are completely non-transparent — and mistakes seem to universally hit just one side of the political aisle. There’s a reason for the lack of trust here, and transparency would help cure it.”

Daily Wire

“By looking to indicators like frequency of reports and connections to rule-violating accounts, Twitter has created a feedback loop that rewards its users for false ‘abuse’ reports. The more you report your political opponents’ tweets, and the more you get them and their friends suspended, the more Twitter will downrank their content in search results.”

Breitbart

“Twitter’s shadow-banning of Nunes, Gaetz, et al is a major problem. But it’s not a problem government should attempt to solve. It should be pointed out Twitter may have fixed the shadow-banning... because it was exposed by Vice, and people complained. That’s how the free market

and free speech) works.”

Hot Air

“The broader context here is North Korea's crop crisis. If Kim hasn't got sanctions relief by August's end, a painful winter is coming… Absent Kim's commitment to suspend all ballistic missile tests, the U.S. should not support the provision of food supplies to the North Korean people. A North Korean long-range nuclear strike capability poses an existential threat to American society… Trump must not allow North Korea's coming suffering to dictate his decisions. Supporting North Korea with food will both prolong North Koreans' suffering under Kim and directly undercut U.S. interests.”
Tom Rogan, Washington Examiner

Some argue, “It stands to reason that if Kim is willing to starve his own people, deprive his economy of any growth, and pour billions of dollars into missile tech, he will, at some point, develop weapons America and its allies mastered decades ago. And short of an invasion or a diplomatic agreement, under the present circumstances, there is very little we can do to stop him… Taking a hardline approach—what many call the ‘big deal’—or only granting sanctions relief after full denuclearization and the end of Kim’s missile programs is completely impractical and something North Korea would never agree to… only a step-by-step process of disarming Pyongyang, where each side gets a benefit for making a concession, will work.”
Harry J. Kazianis, The American Conservative

Others posit that “the reason Kim is developing missiles that can strike Seattle or LA is that 28,000 U.S. troops are in South Korea… If we cannot persuade Pyongyang to give up its nuclear weapons in return for a lifting of sanctions, perhaps we should pull U.S. forces off the peninsula and let China deal with the possible acquisition of their own nuclear weapons by Japan, South Korea, and Taiwan…

“After an exhausting two weeks [between North Korea, Iran, Venezuela, and others], one is tempted to ask: How many quarrels, clashes and conflicts can even a superpower manage at one time? And is it not the time for the United States, preoccupied with so many crises, to begin asking, ‘Why is this our problem?’”
Pat Buchanan, Townhall

“The Democrats want to talk to Don McGahn, and maybe they will ultimately prevail in court to get his testimony, but what’s the point? McGahn talked extensively to Mueller, and surely everything remotely damaging is already in the report

“Congress has the report, and now it is up to it to decide. But it doesn’t want to. It’s too painful to admit that the Mueller report was a bust on Russia and that the obstruction material, while damaging to Trump, is hardly a slam dunk; that the public doesn’t support impeachment; that if the House goes through with it anyway, it will end with a whimper in the Senate; and that it’s better for Democrats to focus on beating Trump in 2020 than a forlorn impeachment.”
Rich Lowry, National Review

A libertarian's take

“The scoop reflects poorly on Trump, who willfully misled the public for a decade in hopes of fraudulently representing himself as a man with a Midas touch. But he could not have succeeded without the assistance of many Americans, some mercenary, others over-credulous, who helped to spread the deceit and deception, generating countless newspaper articles, magazine stories, and TV segments that misinformed the public about the publicity hound’s record in business. New evidence of his staggering losses in that decade therefore provides an apt occasion to reflect on the media’s complicity in Trump’s brazen deceit and deception… Let [this] be a lesson for today’s tabloids, gossip columnists, over-credulous or mercenary journalists, and reality-television producers.”
Conor Friedersdorf, The Atlantic

On the bright side...

Man puts out Southend Pier fire by peeing on it.

BBC

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