UPDATED 21:35 EST / APRIL 17 2023


Twitter will start labeling tweets that have been restricted for hateful speech

Twitter Inc. announced today that it will now effectively let people know their tweet has been “shadowbanned” when it has violated the company’s Hateful Conduct policy.

In a blog post, Twitter said that under Twitter 2.0, it wants the platform to remain safe but not to be a hive of censorship. The company said it embraces “Freedom of Speech” but not “Freedom of Reach,” so some content will be made less discoverable. Read: shadowbanned.

Since Musk’s acquisition of Twitter, a lot has been said about free speech. He has called himself a “free speech absolutist,” which, at times, has nettled his critics and concerned governments. When the so-called Twitter Files were released under Musk’s watch, it was revealed that shadowbanning at the company in the past was a lot more common than one might have thought. Musk has been critical about that in the face of accusations that he’s letting hateful speech run rampant on the platform.

“Restricting the reach of Tweets, also known as visibility filtering, is one of our existing enforcement actions that allows us to move beyond the binary ‘leave up versus take down’ approach to content moderation,” the company said today. “However, like other social platforms, we have not historically been transparent when we’ve taken this action.”

From now on, tweets that violate Twitter’s terms of service for violating hate speech will be labeled as such. Those that do see the shadowbanned tweet will be informed that it has broken the rules. Ads will not be placed in these tweets, but the poster of the hateful missive will not have his or her account flagged or penalized. The tweeters will have recourse to argue Twitter’s decision, but Twitter said it cannot guarantee someone will get back to them.

Twitter said it will start implementing visibility filtering for other kinds of speech besides hate speech. One of the most talked-about shadowbans in the Twitter Files was related to people posting about COVID-19, who were shadow banned, but who turned out to hold valuable scientific opinions. Twitter also suppressed the infamous Biden laptop story while perhaps wrongly restricting many other different kinds of posts. In Twitter’s defense, it may have just been playing it safe, but the lack of transparency was inarguably a mistake.

Photo: Twitter

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