From Hell and back, and then hovering back over Hell
Do you ever get the feeling you’re being watched? I haven’t had many of those experiences in my life, but these days I find this feeling comes over me, the more I dive into social media. I know it may seem like I’m talking about the occasional Leftwing nutjob or troll stalking me, or one of the hundreds of Asian women who try to follow my Twitter account, but it’s not. I’m talking about the BOTS and Algorithms that permeate every Social Media platform on the internet.
For example, take Twitter. I had an original account that seemed to be “free” flowing. My original account on Twitter was activated around 2011. I started the account about a year after I was fired from Music radio, so I primarily used it for posting photos or making comments on events of the day. As I look back on it, I think it was a way for me to try and get away from the very dominant platform at the time, FaceBook. I never posted anything political. It never really occurred to me back then. I was primarily focused on family, friends, and music (lots of posts about music) and I would post many of the cakes that I decorated as a cake artist at the time.
In 2014, I took on a role as producer for my first Conservative talk station gig and thought it would be a good idea to start a new account and use it for nothing but politics. This was a fun account. I started posting my thoughts and immediately attracted the TROLLS!! I never had a troll issue before but it seemed like fun having these exchanges with those on the left so I started to develop and hone my skills. Over the next couple of years, I was not only refining my social media posts, I was growing my account with quite a few followers. I think at the height of my account I had around 6k followers. Not a huge number for most accounts but a lot for somebody who was used to getting maybe 5 new followers a week.
It was about the middle of 2015 when I started noticing a decline in followers. Oh no, I thought! How could this be? Was I boring? Did I post something that stepped over the acceptable line where culture meets politics? I posed the question to my following base and was introduced to the concepts of being “throttled” and “shadow banned.” To me, these were very radical ideas at the time.
I jumped aboard The Trump Train at about the same time these events were unfolding and realized that there was a correlation between being an advocate for President Trump and seeing my followers dwindle. I knew this wasn’t due to people disliking Trump because just about every single follower was a Trump supporter as well. By the way, I was also starting to see fewer responses to my Tweets (oddly, at the same time as all of the other stuff going down.)
After a crazy four years of attacks on Trump and anyone who supported him, I found myself basically tweeting to myself with only a handful of responses and a following that hovered between 4k and 4.5k. On November 10th, Just two days after the 2020 election, my account was permanently suspended and I was told that I was permanently banned from Twitter as well. I was shocked, primarily because no matter how abrasive my Tweets were, my responses were NEVER as bad as the posts that I was responding to.
This was a time of change for me. The “Conservative” Talk station that I was working for, had new ownership. They attempted to require me to participate in “Unconscious Bias” training to which I responded with my “Two-week notice.”
About 6 months after I quit the former talk station, I started talking with my radio friends from the old station about the creation of a new and independent start-up Conservative Talk station NewstalkSTL. This is important because this opportunity gave me a new platform to express my views at a level that I was never able to before. Because of this opportunity, and through much creativity, I was able to start a new Twitter account in July of 2021.
Within the first few weeks, I realized that the same thing was starting to happen with this account, most likely because of my profile description and the fact that this was a political account that revolved around my conservative opinions and of course my affiliation with NewstalkSTL. I was also aligned with many like-minded Conservatives on Twitter. While NewstalkSTL found itself in uphill battles with other social platforms like FaceBook and YouTube, I was facing new discriminatory actions like ‘Shadow Banning’ and ‘Throttling’ on Twitter.
There are many techniques that Twitter employs using algorithms to Shadowban and Throttle accounts.
What is a Shadow Ban and what is Twitter saying?
To put it simply, a shadow ban refers to partially blocking or blacklisting a user’s profile to reduce visibility without their knowledge. It may lead to less engagement with the account and low visibility of posts instead of an outright ban. In other words, followers cannot see your posts on a social media platform.
What does Twitter Throttling mean?
The protocol temporarily prevents tweets from users that Twitter deems abusive from being displayed to people who don’t follow them, effectively reducing their reach.
I started to see odd new behaviors on my Twitter account. I was starting to see many of the same barriers that I faced on my old account but now it seemed to be more obvious, for example, I would like a comment by hitting the heart, and like number would tick up one, then fall back one.
As a bit of a hack, I found that if I repeatedly clicked the heart, eventually it would release my like for that comment. My guess is that on this click they were using a more basic algorithm. However, this was now happening in every one of my responses. Sometimes, If I was liking and retweeting a Tweet that was very controversial, the numbers would NEVER go up and the retweet number would always stay the same so essentially, the author of the Tweet was being Throttled along with me. When this would happen, not only would the numbers not increase, but there would be a flash of the actual number in between clicks. Look closely at the video below and you’ll see what I’m talking about.
When Elon Musk purchased Twitter, he vowed to end the censorship of Conservatives. My account was still being Shadow banned and throttled during this time. Then, I received a message from a listener telling me to check out a site that would be able to tell me if my Twitter account was being censored. The site was: https://shadowban.yuzurisa.com/
I went to this site and sure enough, this is what it showed me:
I proceeded to post a Tweet to Elon Musk asking if he could look into this issue and I included the above results page. I never thought I would get a reply but something even better happened. Within two days of posting a Tweet to Musk, my page transformed! Like a flip of a switch, I started receiving many more responses to my Tweets, and my following numbers started to rise. I went back to the Shadoban.yuzurisa.com site and here is what I found:
I’m not saying that Elon Musk himself took care of my issue, but it is odd that my Twitter account at least feels like it has been set “Free” now. Well, at least for a little while.
For the last few days, I have not been allowed to follow other accounts. Maybe this is standard practice, or maybe, this is a new algorithm!