OPEN LETTER TO TWITTER ABOUT SHADOW BANNING

If you have been shadow banned and you would like to be added as a signatory to this letter, please contact us either here or send a DM to @let_woman and tell us your twitter handle. 

Dear Twitter

 

Further to a letter written to you by FairPlay for Women regarding Twitter’s silencing of women, we, the undersigned, are writing to complain about the increase of aforementioned silencing of gender critical women across Twitter through the action known as shadow banning.

 

Shadow banning is an insidious, passive aggressive form of silencing that very often the user is unaware is taking place. It is also known as quality filter discrimination, which causes your tweets to be invisible within the latest section of the search when the quality filter is turned on (as is the default). This includes hashtags. 

 

Your blog post ‘Setting the Record Straight on Shadow Banning’ states that you do not engage in shadow banning, but then goes on to explain the following in an example of how Twitter filters content:

 

“If a search result has 30,000 tweets, here’s what we take into consideration when ranking:

 

  • Tweets from people you’re interested in should be ranked highly

  • Tweets that are popular are likely to be interesting and should be higher ranked

  • Tweets from bad-faith actors who intend to manipulate or divide the conversation should be ranked lower

 

This last bullet is the basis of our work around serving healthy public conversation. Here are some of the signals we use to determine bad-faith actors:

 

  •     Specific account properties that indicate authenticity (e.g. whether you have a confirmed email address, how recently your account was created, whether you uploaded a profile image, etc)

  •     What actions you take on Twitter (e.g. who you follow, who you retweet, etc)

  •     How other accounts interact with you (e.g. who mutes you, who follows you, who retweets you, who blocks you, etc)

 

We know this approach is working because we see fewer abuse reports and spam reports.”

 

The above indicates that you do choose who to silence, on the basis of the accounts a person follows, the accounts a person interacts with, and various other subjective criteria. What are the guidelines that you follow to determine whether a conversation an account has is “healthy” or not? Why are gender critical accounts, the majority of which belong to women, being silenced in this way? 

 

The accounts in question are not appearing in searches. If accounts are being reported, on what basis is the reporting taking place and why are users not being informed when a report is received?

 

In an official statement, Twitter says "When evaluating these reports, we take into account a variety of factors and context, including whether the behavior is directed at an individual, a group, or a protected category of people” which fails to outline the criteria or explain the factors and context alluded to. Is Twitter simply silencing accounts that have received multiple reports, regardless of whether the reports have been verified or not?

 

You may be aware that here in the UK the government has announced a consultation in reform of the Gender Recognition Act. Our organisation, Let a Woman Speak, as well as similar organisations, are inviting respectful debate at meetings across the country. These meetings are important to hear a variety of views. Our speakers include representatives from the transgender community. However, these meetings (and our views) are targeted by Transgender Activists who seek to silence us. In the physical world these people threaten venues and attendees; in the Twitter world, they report posts and profiles that promote "gender critical" meetings and views.  They seek to subvert the democratic process by silencing, rather than debating, what they perceive to be opposition. In doing so, they are interfering with legal and democratic consultation on a government proposal. Please, do not allow them to do this.

 

Sex is a protected characteristic, and yet women are finding it increasingly difficult to engage in any conversation which references their sex. We note that the majority of profiles being filtered belong to women or women's organisations, who are seeking to safeguard their protected status under the Equality Act 2010. In filtering out their views, they are being discriminated against. Is denying the biological reality of half of the world’s population healthy? Is the gas-lighting of women who want to talk about the issues that impact them part of Twitter’s plan to “increase the collective health, openness and civility” of women using Twitter, as outlined in your blog post ‘Measuring Healthy Conversation’? 

 

Has Twitter thought that perhaps it should ask women themselves what they feel is healthy for them instead of deciding for them? We would like to engage with you to help you evaluate how you can better help women and allow for their voices to be heard on Twitter, and how the undersigned may go about reinstating their accounts to enable them to appear in searches once more. 

 

We look forward to your response. 

Yours Sincerely

 

Let a Woman Speak

 

 

References: 

 

Open Letter to Martha Lane Fox, Twitter (Fair Play for Women):

https://fairplayforwomen.com/martha/

 

‘Enforcing New Rules to Reduce Hateful Content and Abusive Behaviour’:

https://blog.twitter.com/official/en_us/topics/company/2017/safetypoliciesdec2017.html

 

‘Serving Healthy Conversation’: 

https://blog.twitter.com/official/en_us/topics/product/2018/Serving_Healthy_Conversation.html

 

Measuring Healthy Conversation’: 

https://blog.twitter.com/official/en_us/topics/company/2018/measuring_healthy_conversation.html

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