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Bari Weiss

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Bari Weiss is an American journalist, writer, and editor. She was an op-ed and book review editor at The Wall Street Journal and an op-ed staff editor and writer on culture and politics at The New York Times. Since March 1, 2021, she has worked as a regular columnist for German daily newspaper Die Welt.

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9 Dec, 2022

The Twitter Files 2: Twitter’s Secret Blacklists

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Musk, through Weiss, releases The Twitter Files Part 2, subtitled ‘Twitter’s Secret Blacklists (also called, as a joke, ‘Part Deux’ by Musk), detailing how Twitter executives and staff used internal committees and tools to blacklist and restrict access to certain Twitter accounts in secret.

Such actions were called Visibility Filtering (VF) and included blocking searches of individual users; limiting the scope of a particular tweet’s discoverability; blocking select users’ posts from ever appearing on the “trending” page and from inclusion in hashtag searches. In internal messages, Twitter employees also spoke of using technicalities to restrict the visibility of tweets and subjects.

Users did not know about these techniques. In 2018, Vijaya Gadde (then Head of Legal Policy and Trust) and Kayvon Beykpour (Head of Product) said:

We do not shadow ban.

Twitter employee:

Think about visibility filtering as being a way for us to suppress what people see to different levels. It’s a very powerful tool. We control visibility quite a bit. And we control the amplification of your content quite a bit. And normal people do not know how much we do,

Weiss details several accounts that were restricted, including conservative activist Charlie Kirk, who was set to “Do Not Amplify”; Stanford’s Dr. Jay Bhattacharya, who argued that Covid lockdowns would harm children, was put on a “Trends Blacklist”; and the right-wing talk show host, Dan Bongino was restricted using a “Search Blacklist”.

The Files include details about two internal committes: The first group, known as the SRT-GE (Strategic Response Team – Global Escalation Team) decided whether to limit the reach of certain users. It often handled up to 200 “cases” a day. The second, which was only for the largest, most politcally-sensitive decisions, was known as SIP-PES (Site Integrity Policy, Policy Escalation Support), which included Gadde, Yoel Roth (Global Head of Trust & Safety), subsequent CEOs Jack Dorsey and Parag Agrawal, and others. This group operated outside of Twitter’s normal abuse ticketing system,

This latter group restricted the account of @libsoftiktok, subjecting its owner to six suspensions for ‘Hateful Conduct’, despite the committe knowing that LTT has not directly engaged in behavior that violated the Hateful Conduct policy. Weiss contrasts this with Twitter taking no action over posts that revealed the account owner’s home photo and address.

6 Dec, 2022

Musk fires Baker for vetting Twitter Files

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Musk fires Baker, Twitter’s deputy general counsel, over concerns he tried to suppress information about the social media platform’s handling of the Hunter Biden laptop controversy. Baker was involved in discussions about whether the laptop falls under Twitter’s “hacked materials” policy. In one of the Twitter files’ emails Baker wrote:

I support the conclusion that we need more facts to assess whether the materials were hacked. At this stage, however, it’s reasonable for us to assume that they may have been and that caution is warranted.

Matt Taibbi, the journalist releasing Twitter’s files, said that he and another journalist, Bari Weiss, were dealing “with obstacles to new searches” when Weiss discovered that Baker had vetted the first batch of “Twitter Files” – without knowledge of new management.

Over the weekend, while we both dealt with obstacles to new searches, it was @BariWeiss who discovered that the person in charge of releasing the files was someone named Jim. When she called to ask “Jim’s” last name, the answer came back: “Jim Baker.” “My jaw hit the floor,” says Weiss

Musk said Baker, had offered an “unconvincing” explanation for his actions when confronted.

In light of concerns about Baker’s possible role in suppression of information important to the public dialogue, he was exited from Twitter today…His explanation was …unconvincing.