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.