(NEW YORK) While Twitter has responded to the recent series of Project Veritas videos dealing with their practices regarding message privacy, political bias and data harvesting, most of their responses haven’t really addressed the information disclosed by the Veritas videos.
For starters, Twitter responded to the first video stating “The individual [Senior Network Security Engineer Clay Haynes] depicted in this video was speaking in a personal capacity and does not represent or speak for Twitter.” [emphasis added]
Following the release of an additional video with multiple employees corroborating many of Haynes’ points, they updated their statement to read: “The individuals depicted in this video were speaking in a personal capacity and do not represent or speak for Twitter.” [emphasis added]
The Twitter spokesperson did not adequately respond to the statement made by Haynes regarding turning over President Trump’s private direct messages to the Department of Justice.
“Twitter only responds to valid legal requests, and does not share any user information with law enforcement without such a request,” the Twitter spokesperson told Fox News.
Obviously, this statement does not address the question of whether any request was made by the Department of Justice or if Twitter complied to any legal request which might have been made.
Following the third Veritas video, where Haynes stated that “at least, three or four hundred people” are dedicated to looking at private messages, Twitter provided Buzzfeed with an additional statement:
Twitter disputes these claims. “We do not proactively review DMs. Period,” a company spokesperson told BuzzFeed News. “A limited number of employees have access to such information, for legitimate work purposes, and we enforce strict access protocols for those employees.”
Twitter did not answer questions about the number of employees who have such access or the specifics of precautions it takes to protect sensitive user data.
If Twitter is stating that it isn’t hundreds of people who have direct access to private messages, just how many people do? How many people constitute “a limited number of employees?” And just what are the “strict access protocols” Twitter allegedly enforces on their employees?
Regarding Twitter not proactively reviewing DMs, the cavalier attitude of multiple employees, combined with access to the messages and political or advertising motivations, suggests otherwise.
Twitter also responded: “We deplore the deceptive and underhanded tactics by which this footage was obtained and selectively edited to fit a pre-determined narrative. Twitter is committed to enforcing our rules without bias and empowering every voice on our platform, in accordance with the Twitter Rules.”
Attacking the messenger does nothing to dispel the widely held view that Twitter actively suppresses the views of many conservatives and libertarians using the platform. The internet is filled with a plethora of examples of people stating that Twitter has absolutely failed at “enforcing our rules without bias and empowering every voice on our platform.”
Finally, Twitter stated that they do not “shadowban accounts. [They] do take actions to downrank accounts that are abusive, and mark them accordingly so people can still to click through and see these Tweets if they so choose.” Call it whatever you will, it seems to meet the commonly understood definition of shadow banning.
Despite Twitter’s statements, the following questions remain:
- Did Twitter receive a request from the Department of Justice to turn over President Trump’s private messages?
- If such a request was received, did Twitter comply with it?
- What does Twitter plan to do to diversify the acceptable range of political beliefs among their employees?
- Since Twitter states that hundreds of employees do not have direct access to DMs, just how many employees and contractors have this level of access?
- What mechanisms are in place to prevent, or at least monitor, employee abuse of private data?
- How many employees or contractors have been caught at Twitter disclosing personal information?
- If an employee does disclose private data, what disciplinary steps are taken afterwards?
- How does Twitter explain the cavalier attitude of multiple employees regarding private data exposed on the Veritas videos?
- Does Twitter sell or use any information relating to DMs for advertising purposes?
- While Twitter claims to be politically unbiased, millions of Americans would strongly disagree with this statement. Does Twitter have any plans in place to make the platform less politically biased.
- How many Twitter accounts have been “downranked?” For what specific reasons were they downranked?