Twitter is “shadow banning” prominent Republicans like the RNC chair and Trump Jr.’s spokesman

Twitter is “shadow banning” prominent Republicans like the RNC chair and Trump Jr.’s spokesman, by Alex Thompson.

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 Republican Party chair Ronna McDaniel, several conservative Republican congressmen, and Donald Trump Jr.’s spokesman no longer appear in the auto-populated drop-down search box on Twitter, VICE News has learned. It’s a shift that diminishes their reach on the platform — and it’s the same one being deployed against prominent racists to limit their visibility. The profiles continue to appear when conducting a full search, but not in the more convenient and visible drop-down bar. …

Democrats are not being “shadow banned” in the same way, according to a VICE News review. … Not a single member of the 78-person Progressive Caucus faces the same situation in Twitter’s search. …

The company’s drop-down search bar has also been excluding several prominent racist figures on the alt-right, such as Jason Kessler, who organized last year’s white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia. The platform has also demoted a smattering of far-right figures like Mike Cernovich, as Gizmodo reported earlier this week.

But the rationale determining which accounts auto-populate in search results and which don’t is unclear. InfoWars and its leader Alex Jones have not been demoted despite often spreading false news and right-wing conspiracy theories, for example. Republican Rep. Steve King — who has tweeted that immigration should be limited because “we can’t restore our civilization with somebody else’s babies” — also appears to be unaffected by this change to the company’s search function. He retweeted a self-proclaimed “Nazi sympathizer” last month and declined to take it down when notified of the person’s history. …

Democrats, for their part, have largely rolled their eyes at conservative claims of discrimination. At Diamond and Silk’s hearing in April, the committee’s top-ranking Democrat Jerrold Nadler called the idea of Big Tech censorship of conservatives a “hoax” and a “tired narrative of imagined victimhood” that was eclipsing other priorities like election security and online privacy.