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Ask HN: Why are the Twitter shadowban news articles being shadowbanned on HN?
11 points by personjerry 10 months ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 7 comments
There's just been an article about how Twitter shadowbans conservative politicians, and it's being covered by several news outlets. I tried submitting several different sources but each one is being flagged and disabled. Why is this happening?

For example: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=16128725

There was also a post of the direct source on Project Veritas which was flagged.

These types of questions are tough, though I can imagine it may be one of a variety of reasons:

- There are already plenty of discussions on HN regarding bias and banning on Twitter, which tend to repeatedly cover the same ground, much of which is flame-covered, and some HN members may not want to see as many submissions like this

- Project Veritas (James O'Keefe) is known to be a unreputable source, with numerous judgements against them going back years, and members may not want to use this as a starting point of discussion for an already highly contentious discussion.


- It's a highly charged political topic and, as you note, is covered by several news outlets. One of the guidelines for HN states "Off-Topic: Most stories about politics, or crime, or sports, unless they're evidence of some interesting new phenomenon. Ideological or political battle or talking points. Videos of pratfalls or disasters, or cute animal pictures. If they'd cover it on TV news, it's probably off-topic." This story is hitting at least two of those.

It's hard to know why people flag or downvote or upvote or submit, but there's some speculation. One can disagree with some of the reasons I'm putting forth (my mind-reading skills aren't what they used to be), or think it should be discussed anyway: you can contact the mods via the Contact link in the footer and let them know. They've been known to unflag submissions in the past if they think it's appropriate for HN.

Nit: Only members are shadowbanned. Submissions (and comments) can be flagged or killed.

I agree. In the last 30 minutes "Trump decries immigrants from 'shithole countries' coming to US (cnn.com)" and "Trump's Fossil-Fuel Dominance Plan Is Foundering (latimes.com)" also got flagged by multiple users (not me). There are many other forums for US politics, I for one am happy to keep HN focused on (mostly) technology https://news.ycombinator.com/best

> Project Veritas (James O'Keefe) is known to be a unreputable source, with numerous judgements against them going back years, and members may not want to use this as a starting point of discussion for an already highly contentious discussion.

O'Keefe is a scumbag, and you have to very carefully evaluate the content of his "undercover" videos. I was considering also submitting the video, but decided against it because so much of the questioning is framed in a way that is clearly designed to make Twitter look bad.

At the same time, there are some pretty damning quotes, regardless of framing. It seems clear that the accusations that Twitter targets conservatives should carry some weight based on the statements of some of the engineers and the content reviewers, and at the very least Twitter is not doing a good job of communicating their policies to the content review team.

But unfortunately, as you say, O'Keefe is fundamentally toxic. I would expect a lot of flags for this reason alone. The video also doesn't lend itself to careful analysis - there's a lot of editing, and there's conclusions you're definitely supposed to draw. I think that's unfortunate, because I think the larger story of the role tech companies are playing in politics (in terms of their influence on people's speech) is one of the most important stories of the decade.

If Twitter, Google, and Facebook were to use their dominant market+tech positions to systematically eliminate some speech, without highly-public visibility of the manipulation -- should one also eliminate stories about such illiberal paths of the major technology companies?

These are valid and important questions, but let's not use this Ask HN to relitigate them, as they're off-topic: there are plenty of other places where this discussion has been had, and I'm sure will be again. If you have additional ideas as to why members might have flagged them, I'm sure 'personjerry would appreciate them.

Do you see that the submission is [dead]? Shadowbanning means that the article is killed but the system "lies" to the author and to the autor the post looks alive. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shadow_banning

These post look like normal flagged and killed post, where everyone (including the author) can see they are flagged and killed. (You can enable shoedead in your profile, to sea [dead] posts.)

Stories about Google's search results that recently started to include false denunciations of conservative websites are also being flagged -- aka shadow-banned.

Another way stories are shadow-banned is that they are simply not shown to other users, while the poster doesn't see a '[flagged]' tag (but there is no 'discuss' link).

Since these stories are being flagged, it is likely that comments on the same topics are also being flagged.

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