One of the first things you’re taught in journalism class is to never make yourselves the story. Yet, here we stand, facing a sensitive content warning on our Twitter page. We have seen no reason why Twitter has specifically target us. We have close to 700 contributors on a open platform, which no matter the subject or politics, if the article is well written and fact-based, we have published it. We have published roughly 240 articles this month, and we can not identify any sensitive or graphic image in any of these articles.
We believe it is wrong for Twitter to filter the news, or pick one article out of a wide range of diversified posts, and say that news story is over the line. We are an open platform that publishes the news the public selects. The vast majority of Twitter users do not want the news filtered for them by Silicon Valley, and certainly do not want an open news platform to be suppressed because it is willing to publish all sides of every story. At this point we have seen no email or reason why Communal News is being censored.
As of Wednesday night, that warning— shielding most of the Twitterverse from our open platform news articles and content— still remains. Twitter adopted the barrier method a couple of years ago as something resembling a compromise, keeping sensitive users from seeing pornographic and other offensive content, while still allowing those in the adult industry and neo-Nazis, for example, on the platform. Still, otherwise innocent pages are often caught up in their aggressive algorithm, preventing readers, who would rather get their news and comment from other sources than corporate or government outlets, from seeing it.
Sparked by complaints that Twitter wasn’t doing enough to combat trolling and other offensive content, the platform implemented the change around March 2017. While users could simply click “Yes, view profile” and lift the screen, the flagging itself effectively removed the page from the Twitterverse. For users who wished to place the warning voluntarily, the feature is easy to apply and easy to remove. For those whose pages were flagged, or otherwise victimized by Twitter’s algorithms and AI, it’s a bit like being on the No-Fly List. The primary conduit for information about being screened is, apparently, being told about it by other users. There is often no way of telling how one got screened or what content was flagged, and no appeal, as is in our case.
Twitter has faced complaints of bias and outright censorship, particularly from the right, for years. The site has conducted numerous purges of accounts it deems to have violated its terms of service. Conspiracy theorists and neo-Nazis are often popular targets. However, last year, Vice News reported that even prominent Republican politicians had been “shadow banned,” by a “quality filter,” which hid content and users deemed “low quality” from its drop-down search section. Their Democratic counterparts were unaffected. Twitter blamed the problem on a software bug, which they claimed would be fixed in the near future.
As an open platform site, Communal News features a diverse cast of characters: left, right, and center; foreign and domestic; covering the news of the day, politics, business, sports, lifestyle, and everything in between. Truly, all the news and comment fit to post. The newsroom has changed drastically over the years. The news room isn’t even in fashion anymore, having transformed, as Matt Drudge predicted more than 20 years ago, into a “network of ordinary guys.” It is to us and other sites modeled in such a way that people seek out un- and under-reported news from perspectives and places they might not get from other, legacy sources.
From Huawei to Amazon, Twitter to Google, it hasn’t exactly been a great week for the folks in Big Tech. It also isn’t hard to see why trust in these firms, once sky-high, is in fast-forward free-fall. Twitter users can still view our articles by visiting our profile and clicking “Yes” on the screen. Our other social media profiles and our website, remain unaffected. As we continue to sort out our Twitter situation, we apologize for any inconvenience this might have caused, and thank our readers for their continued support.