Friday, November 11, 2016

Twitter's Double Standard Spam Filter

Did you know that if you post multiple tweets containing similar content (I have found that this is generally 4 or more in a row) that Twitter will begin to filter any new duplicate tweets as spam?

The sad irony is that election season is a great time to test Twitter's spam filter to see who's tweets didn't make the cut.  Once Twitter decides a tweet is spam that tweet is no longer searchable and, according to the results of my most recent CA Legislative Open Records Act request, you can tweet your state representatives telling them how you would like them to vote, but don't count on your representative being notified that you were trying to tweet them.

My previous blog post showed how the California Nurse-Midwives Association and a number of their Twitter supporters had their tweets regarding Assembly Bill 1306 censored as spam on Twitter and that the representatives they posted their tweets to did not receive any notification that they were mentioned in the tweets.  This is much like your gmail account failing to deliver email to your public official based on the discretion of Google.

Keep in mind that when you mention someone in a tweet you see a confirmation that "your tweet was sent" or "your tweet was posted."  This is nothing short of fraud for Twitter to tell you one thing and then not follow through with it.

So, what makes election season a good time to test Twitter's spam filter is that lots of elected officials have a Twitter account and if you are a group that wants to promote your favored candidate you can easily fall into a spam-trap.  The 140 character limit also helps increase the odds because what happens is that it's easy to copy and paste a repetitive message as opposed to composing a whole new tweet for each individual.

So, let's compare repetitive messages posted by the @CA_Dem and @TxValuesAction accounts.  What I discovered with my sample below is that none of the tweets posted by the @CA_Dem account are censored, but all of tweets posted by the @TxValuesAction account are.  For @TxValuesAction, I did not include the uncensored tweets posted in the series of repetitive tweets.

In another previous blog I discuss how to find a censored account, but in this instance neither account is censored, only selective tweets are.  See the blog if you want to know more about searching for censored Twitter content.

@CA_Dem Tweets:

@TxValuesAction Tweets:

Repetitive tweeting looks like it's okay depending on the account that posts it.  I see no reason why one account would have their tweets filtered as spam, but not the other.  Also, if my previous LORA request is any indication, the @TxValuesAction posted a lot of congratulatory tweets that were never delivered to their intended recipient.

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Public Records Request Reveals Twitter Censors Political Speech

Last month I posted a blog about how Twitter Censors "Spam" Posted by the California Nurse-Midwives Association and yesterday I finally received even more disturbing proof of what Twitter actually does.

If you didn't read the blog then let me give you a brief overview.  A few months back the California Nurse-Midwives Association (@CalMidwives) tweeted their support of Assembly Bill 1306 by using the #AB1306 hashtag.  In a following blog I explained how The California Democratic Party Twitter Account Gets Away with Posting Spam when organizations like the @CalMidwives had their tweets promoting the passage of specific legislation censored.

I knew that the @CalMidwives had repetitive tweets censored, most likely as spam, yet, the @CA_Dem account engaged in the same activity, but their tweets failed to get censored.

And just to make things further convoluted for you, I knew from a previous open records request that a person tweeting from a censored Twitter account may tag people, like their local police department,  in a tweet, but the tagged account may not get a notification about it.  For example, the account of ACLU lawyer @carltonwilliams is currently censored (and has been for some time).

I found a tweet Mr. Williams sent to the Revere Police Department and I asked if the @reverepolice was notified of the tweet.  They were not.
Knowing that the @CalMidwives had a number of censored tweets tagging and/or mentioning members of both the California Assembly and Senate, I submitted a public records request to those individuals.  There were many censored tweets and numerous elected officials to choose from.  I decided to narrow down my requests to members of the California Tech Caucus.

Yesterday I received the response to my request in regards to members of the California Assembly.  You will notice that it wasn't only the CNMA that was caught up in the Twitter-spam-filter-mess, but also some of their supporters like @karenrubybrown and @JonathanBartle8.

These are the tweets I inquired about and the results I got:
Request: I would like to know if Twitter notified the @JimPatterson559 account that this tweet was sent.
Result: No notification received.

Request: I would like to know if Twitter notified the @ScottWilkCA account that this tweet was sent.
Result: No notification received.

Request: I would like to know if Twitter notified the @asmMelendez and @AsmL2Chang accounts that this tweet was sent.
Result: The Melendez account is personal and Chang did not receive any notification.

Request: I would like to know if Twitter notified the @jacquiirwin and @MattDababneh accounts that this tweet was sent.
Result: The Irwin account is personal and Dababneh did not receive any notification.

Request: I would like to know if Twitter notified the @NoraCamposCA and @Evan_Low account that this tweet was sent.
Result: The Campos account did not receive any notification and the Low account is personal.

Sadly, if you thought that Twitter was a great way to promote your ballot measure, political campaign, or agenda you are mistaken.  These people thought they were tweeting their elected representatives and that there was a possibility those representatives would read their message.  The only problem is that their tweets ended up censored and the accounts being tagged failed to received any notification from Twitter that they were being mentioned.

So go ahead, feel free to tweet the members of your state legislature.  Just don't tweet them something that gets filtered out as spam.

Friday, November 4, 2016

The California Democratic Party Twitter Account Gets Away with Posting Spam

The Equality California Twitter account, @eqca, has posted tweets that shows how Twitter is censoring their tweets, but not similar tweets posted by the California Democratic Party Twitter account, @CA_Dem.  However, Twitter didn't always consider the @eqca tweets to be spam.

On October 24, 2016 the @eqca posted a series of tweets that ended up being censored because (my best guess) they were filtered as spam.  I've posted a previous blog about how Twitter Censors "Spam" Posted by the California Nurse-Midwives Association and the tweets posted by the @eqca look like they have fallen into the same trap.  The problem is that the tweets are posted within a short time period and contain the same or similar text.

Here are some of the tweets the @eqca posted that are censored:

I won't post all 135 of the tweets here.  They all look much the same.  Of the 135 tweets, 127 of them ended up being censored (by this I mean that the tweets are unsearchable on Twitter).

For example, I know the tweet mentioning @AsmAutumnBurke is censored because when I search the text I get no results:

What I also know is that there is a very HIGH chance that Twitter did not notify the tagged account that they were mentioned in the censored tweet.  The response I received to a recent public records request regarding a known censored account indicated something peculiar.  I knew that the account of @CarltonWilliams was censored.  So, I found a tweet where he had tagged the @reverepolice.  Knowing I could expect a response submitted to a police department, I submitted a public records request asking the Revere Police if there account received a notification that they were mentioned in the tweet posted by Mr. Williams.

This is the public records request I submitted and the response I got:

So, an ACLU lawyer is censored on Twitter and if he tweets a public agency that agency will have no clue he was talking about them on Twitter.  Um, Wow!  I didn't know that was how Twitter and free speech were supposed to work.  That's like Google not liking my "police" searches and deciding I shouldn't be allowed to email my local police.

I have submitted a public records request to Assembly Member Burke and a few others to see if they received notification of the censored tweet posted by the @eqca.

But here's the funny thing, doing an advanced Twitter search for tweets sent by the @eqca account using the text "We're proud to endorse" posted during the year 2014 yielded 15 related tweets:

I have not had the time to scroll all the way back to 2014 on the @eqca timeline to see if they actually posted more tweets than are showing up in the results, but keep in mind that by 2016 they only got away with posting 8 searchable endorsement tweets.

Here's a few more unlucky accounts who fell into the same Twitter-spam-trap:

But here's the sad part for Equality California and their @eqca Twitter account.  As recently as November 1st the @CA_Dem Twitter account engaged in the same type of tweeting behavior, but somehow their tweets managed to not get filtered as spam:

For example,
This tweet is searchable and 9 others just like it were posted the same day:

So, somehow a series of similar tweets posted by the @CA_Dem are not spam, while a series of similar tweets posted by @eqca@EQILPAC@EqualityNewYork@ELMActionFund, and the @CalMidwives are.  We should all be asking ourselves how we are to know what gets censored as spam and what does not and Twitter should be transparent about it.

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Twitter Censors "Spam" Posted by the California Nurse-Midwives Association

Did you know that tweeting too much of the same or similar content is considered spam by Twitter, even when the message is directed to elected officials?

Back in August the CNMA encouraged members to participate in a "Twitter bomb" by tweeting representatives of the CA Legislature their support for Assembly Bill 1306.  The bill failed to pass and some of the tweets posted by the @CalMidwives Twitter account ended up censored.  When I say censored, I mean that when you try to search for them on Twitter you won't find them.  To see the tweet you have to visit the @CalMidwives account.  What it also means is that the CA Assembly and Senate members included in on the tweets were not notified of the tweet (I'll be submitting a public records request to verify, but this has happened to me in the past.)

So, let's take a look at the censored "spam" posted by the CNMA.  All we need to do is visit the @CalMidwives account and scroll down to their tweets posted on August 31st (to better understand how to search for a censored tweet visit the this has happened to me in the past link).

On August 31st the CNMA posted 21 tweets that contained the words "Increase safety + happiness + save CA taxpayers $$$."  However, when you search Twitter for those tweets only 7 show up in the results:

Note: A search for "Increase safety + happiness + save CA taxpayers $$$" produced the same results.

These are the tweets that Twitter decided were spam:

It's one thing for Twitter to fight spam, but in this instance Twitter is violating the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution that provides for people and organizations, like the CNMA, to petition their government.  It really is that simple.  Twitter has allowed elected officials to create public accounts, but due to a lack of transparent rules in how Twitter defines spam, you may not know when your tweets are seen as legitimate or not.    

UPDATE: More Examples of Twitter Censoring Legitimate "Spam"

Now you knew that the CNMA would not be the only account affected by Twitter's algorithms wrongly interpreting free speech as spam.  Here's more:

On August 31st Certified Nurse-Midwife, Karen Ruby Brown, posted from her twitter account 11 tweets to her CA representatives in regards to Assembly Bill 1306.  Each tweet contained the words, "We LOVE our collaborating MDs" and doing a search for those tweets shows that more than half are censored.

On August 27th Nurse-Midwife, Monica Viera, posted 37 tweets from her account to her CA representatives in regards to Assembly Bill 1306.  Only two of the 37 tweets sent that day are uncensored, while the other 35 are uncensored.  All of her 37 tweets contained the same message, "Quality of care enhanced by collegiality:mutual respect&trust+professional responsibility+accountability-this is #AB1306," but were individually sent to different elected officials. I applaud Monica for her efforts and am deeply concerned that Twitter chose to view the same tweet sent to her other 35 representatives as spam.

See how my search for the words "Quality of care enhanced by collegiality" resulted in only 4 tweets:

On August 31st Twitter user and Assembly Bill 1306 supporter, Jonathan Bartlett, posted 28 tweets with the words "No other state has CPM bar" to his CA representatives.  As the screen shot below shows, only 6 of those tweets are uncensored:

And the censorship of "spam" isn't limited to supporters of Assembly Bill 1306....


On October 13th the @AuhsdBond Twitter account posted 11 tweets with the following picture: 

However, when you try to search for these tweets you'll notice that 8 of them are censored from the Twitter search results.  These are the censored tweets I found:

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Tim Canova's Campaign Account is Censored on Twitter

In my previous post I talked about the use of Twitter to promote one's own election campaign.

However, I want to point something very important out about how Twitter treats the campaign account of Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz's opponent, Tim Canova.  Three weeks before the DNC email leaks I posted this video to YouTube.  It shows me searching for and successfully finding the tweets posted by the @Tim_Canova account.  Yet, when I do the same search for tweets posted by the @Canova4Congress account I get no results.  I've continued doing this search throughout the month of July and August with the same results.

You can try this yourself to see what results you get!

Log out to test your own account!

Click here for more information on how to do a Twitter search!

Friday, June 17, 2016

Should you be using Twitter to Promote your Election Campaign?

Do you know who you will be voting for this election season?  Well, if you haven't made up your mind, that's okay because Twitter has taken some liberties to make up your mind for you by censoring the accounts of a few people running for office or already in office...and not just in the U.S.

To understand how to find a censored account you should read my blog on how to do a Twitter censorship investigation (if you can search Google, you can figure out how to search Twitter and test for censorship).  The important thing to remember is that when Twitter censors your account other people will no longer be able to search for or find the content you've posted.  The only way they will be able to see what you've posted is by directly visiting your account.

For example, yesterday I noticed that the account for Connecticut State Rep. candidate Christy Matthews @ElectMatthews was censored.  This is video of me conducting the search of her account:

I noticed this morning that the @ElectMatthews is no longer censored, but one thing I know about censored accounts is that they are more likely to be censored again in the future.  They are also likely to be connected in some way (i.e. having retweeted or following) with other censored accounts.  So, all I had to do to find my second censored campaign account was to do the test on the accounts that follow Ms. Matthews.

So, what other candidates for public office are being censored?  NY congressional candidate Zephyr Teachout's, @ZephyrTeachout, account was censored yesterday when I did this video and she is still censored this morning:

Further investigation (i.e. going down the list of @GOP followers) showed that one of two campaign accounts for CO congressional candidate George Athanasopoulos (@gjathanas) is currently being censored:

Now let's look at the people already in public office that have had their account censored.  Yesterday I noticed that the @BobluceyNV account for Washoe County Commissioner Bob Lucey was censored (and still is as of this morning):

Also, the @GC4NC14 account for NC Rep. George Cleveland had been censored for the last several days and had only become uncensored this morning:

Now let's take a look at another kind of censorship that Twitter engages in - the account search!

The accounts for @Linda2016gop@Stanton4Liberty, and @MWashington45 all have something in common.  They all want your vote and they all use words like "candidate for GOP," "Libertarian candidate," or "Republican candidate" to describe themselves in their user profile.  However, if you search those terms using Twitter's account search option you won't find these campaign accounts:

It's the same thing for accounts for Stuart Yeowart (@stuyog) and Daniel Morris (@DanMorrisUKIP).  Both use the words "UKIP" and "candidate" in their user profile.  Unfortunately, the following video shows that doing a search for all accounts that contain the words "UKIP" and "candidate" fails to present results for either the @stuyog or @DanMorrisUKIP accounts:

So, if you plan on running for elected office you may want to reconsider using Twitter or else you may find yourself unknowingly censored.  Good luck getting your message across then!

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Barbi Twins Follow Even More Censored Twitter Accounts than Morgan Fairchild

Yesterday I blogged about the high number of censored Twitter accounts Morgan Fairchild follows.  Well, it turns out she has serious competition with the Barbi Twins.  I spent just a little time this morning doing a cursory glance at who the Barbi Twins follow on Twitter and came up with a whopping 27 accounts:


So, when I say these people have a censored account, I mean that their tweets get treated a little bit differently.  That's because when Twitter censors you, your content is no longer available to be found on their platform.  Not all accounts are censored forever, but I've certainly noticed plenty that have been censored for several months.

Read more here about how easy it is to see if a Twitter account is being censored.

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Morgan Fairchild Follows a High Number of Censored Accounts

I'm currently using my own Twitter account, @AngelaGreben, to follow all the censored accounts I find (see how easy it is to test an account).

Five days ago when I went to Morgan Fairchild's list of accounts she follows on Twitter I noticed something interesting.  Since I was already following a number of censored animal rights related accounts it just so happened she and I were following several of the same people.  I ran my search test on these accounts once again to make sure they were indeed censored. They all were and I posted these tweets:

As of May 26th all of the following accounts were censored and as of this morning only four had become uncensored:

@culturanimal_es uncensored as of 5/31/16
@bidtosaveastray uncensored as of 5/31/16
@beaker1986 uncensored as of 5/31/16
@Elverojaguar uncensored as of 5/31/16

Feel free to tweet @jack and ask him to explain the inconsistencies of his public statement.

Friday, March 25, 2016

Twitter Censors Accounts Critical of Monsanto

I have previously blogged about Twitter censoring accounts based on both the account holder's political affiliation and race, but now I want to present to you accounts I found that are likely being censored because they are critical of either Monsanto, GMO's, the use of pesticides, or all of the above:

@SusanStopsongs (censored status changes)
@FarmFairyCrafts (censored status changes)

I came across these censored accounts by doing a Twitter search on the following hashtags:
#Monsanto, #StopMonsanto, #DarkAct, #GMO, and #NoGMO

Here are some examples of the types of tweets that may have gotten the account holder censored:

(FYI For instructions on how to do a search visit my blog

Keep in mind that when Twitter censors your content, your tweets are no longer available to be found using their search engine.  The only way for another person to see your tweets is to actually visit your Twitter account.