Saturday, February 27, 2016

You can do a Twitter Censorship Investigation

If someone claims to have been banned, shadowbanned, silenced, hidden, or censored on Twitter would you know that there are ways you can tell?

I don't really want to reveal all my secrets, but one of them is sitting under your nose.  All you have to do is utilize the search bar.




In this scenario I suggest you first log out of your account to conduct your Twitter search.  Please note that not logging out to conduct a search of your own account will show you false positives results.



When your logged out you will want to select the little blue bird.



You will then want to select the magnifying glass icon.



Now you can enter your search terms in the search bar.



When doing this search the best place to start is with someone's Twitter handle.  I'll use myself in this example and search for my Twitter handle, @AngelaGreben.



Now Twitter will show you your search result.  For this purpose I zoomed way out of the page to give you a general idea of what you may typically see.



From here I like to select the "more options" tab and then the "Tweets" option.
If you want to be thorough I recommend doing your search using both the "All" and the "Tweets" option.  Be brave and check out the "Advanced search" option, but I'm not going to go over it here.



This is what I get when I look up my account in the way I've just described.  The result is one tweet, and though it's a nice one, Twitter would leave you to think I've never sent a tweet.





Here are three accounts I found that aren't censored.  You can tell the accounts aren't censored because you see the tweets that the account holder posted.  In the examples below I wanted to narrow down my selection to only tweets sent from the account holder and so I searched using from: followed by their handle.















This is what my from: search looks like...



This is basically how you can do your own search for a potentially censored account.  Keep in mind that I have sent thousands of tweets and they still exist.  You can read them by directly visiting my account.  This applies to any censored account.

Sadly, Twitter decided recently that it was necessary to censor tweets containing sensitive material.  I noticed earlier this week that I had been censored and I knew that it was a result of having published various Twitter block lists of public officials and agencies to my blog govblock.blogspot.com.

However, once I realized that I was being censored I knew that something more insidious was happening because I use Twitter specifically to target my message to public Twitter accounts.

For example, I sent the following tweet to probably over one hundred public accounts on Tuesday:



While I was busy sending this same message out to as many public accounts as I could manage I noticed that the number of people viewing them wasn't increasing nearly as expected.  It dawned on me that my two City of Sunnyvale Councilmembers had received the tweet and all I had to do was email them to see if they did indeed get my tweet.  

They both confirmed that they did not.

Now I want you to go be your own investigator and the next time you hear the term Trust and Safety Council just remember that where there's deception there's no trust.

Thank you @DaveWhittum and @JimGriffith_SV for your assistance.