Twitter will inform users when the visibility of posts has been reduced by the platform’s algorithms

Elon Musk decides yet another major overhaul of Twitter’s policies, announcing that the microblogging platform will no longer covertly limit the visibility of tweets shared by users. So the measure will also be accompanied by a formal update about your “real account status”

Known as shaddow banning, the “phenomenon” also occurs on other social networks when users’ posts or activity do not flagrantly violate the platform’s rules, but contravene policies to discourage certain practices, from spreading misinformation to touching on “sensitive” topics such as the COVID pandemic, wars and uprisings in countries whose governments might retaliate against the business interests of the company running that social media platform.

The reasons why most social media platforms do not inform their users whose accounts have come under shaddow banning are diverse and at the same time easy to intuit. First, if the measure is applied to users who are already followers of conspiracy theories, formal information is interpreted as a reconfirmation of beliefs. Then, some conspiracists will feel motivated to spread their message with even greater vigour, actively seeking ways around the restrictions imposed.

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Justified or not, announcing the shadow censorship of Twitter accounts with a simple notification message titled “Your true account status” can easily be interpreted as a curtailment of the freedom of speech on which Twitter has built its notoriety. Especially if the measure is enforced by the platform’s automated algorithms and not the teams of well-trained moderators Musk has reportedly already dispensed with in the company’s restructuring phase.

Trying to give more clarity to the imposed measure, Twitter will inform users about the type of limitation that targets them – Trends Blacklist (prevents the tweet in question from going viral) or Search Blacklist (the tweet cannot be found with the platform’s search function).

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Interestingly, Instagram also offers a similar “service”, but only for so-called professional accounts, reserved for the platform’s stars. Thus, when sharing a post that Instagram’s algorithms or moderators have identified as abusive, the creator or business in question is not penalised according to the same rules as ordinary users. Instead, a notification message informs about the violation of Instagram rules and restricts the display of that post in the selection of recommendations shown to other users. The Instagram page administrator can delete or submit the edited post for reconsideration in the hope of getting the ban lifted.

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