Social Media, Top Stories, Who Controls The Platform?
comments 49

It Isn’t Your Imagination: Twitter Treats Conservatives More Harshly Than Liberals

This is a response to “Who Controls the Platform?“—a multi-part Quillette series authored by social-media insiders. Submissions related to this series may be directed to pitch@quillette.com.

Many conservatives believe that social media companies are biased against their views. This includes Donald Trump, who last year accused Twitter of “shadow banning” Republicans, and promised to “look into this discriminatory and illegal practice.” A few months later, Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey made a categorical denial of any bias while testifying before Congress:

Let me be clear about one important and foundational fact: Twitter does not use political ideology to make any decisions, whether related to ranking content on our service or how we enforce our rules. We believe strongly in being impartial, and we strive to enforce our rules impartially.

Recently, Mr. Dorsey appeared on two different podcasts, on which he similarly denied any bias against the right.

Not everyone is convinced. A June, 2018 Pew poll found that 72% of Americans believe that social media companies censor views they don’t like, with members of the public being four times more likely to report a belief that such institutions favor liberals over conservatives than the opposite. Podcasters Joe Rogan and Sam Harris both received backlash from their respective audiences for not pressing Dorsey hard enough on the censorship issue.

Until now, conservatives have had to rely on anecdotes to make their case. To see whether there is an empirical basis for such claims, I decided to look into the issue of Twitter bias by putting together a database of prominent, politically active users who are known to have been temporarily or permanently suspended from the platform. My results make it difficult to take claims of political neutrality seriously. Of 22 prominent, politically active individuals who are known to have been suspended since 2005 and who expressed a preference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election, 21 supported Donald Trump.

I began my analysis by compiling a list of every prominent individual or political party known to have been banned from Twitter since its founding. As a proxy for prominence, I used the criterion of whether the ban was important enough to warrant coverage in mainstream news sources. With the help of two research assistants, I searched both conservative and liberal media sources.

It is possible that I missed certain cases. In order to ensure reproducibility, I have made the data on suspended individuals and groups available online. And I invite readers to contact me if I missed any cases or made any errors. But given the wide variety of sources we used to compile the database, it is unlikely that any oversights would be substantial enough to meaningfully change the results.

I included only those cases in which the identity of the banned individual or entity was clear. Sometimes, Twitter removes an account because a user is thought to be engaging in a program of disinformation—for example, accounts allegedly run by agents of the Russian government that purport to identify with one side of the American political spectrum. To exclude such spurious cases, I designed my own database to include only unambiguous cases of identifiable individuals or organizations from English-speaking western democracies believed to be engaging in political advocacy in good faith. I counted individuals who are primarily known for their political activism, such as Milo Yiannopoulos; and others who are famous for other reasons but who also regularly comment on politics, such as the actor James Woods. As my main interest is political bias within the U.S. political spectrum, I also excluded terrorists and other Islamic extremists such as ISIS supporters.

Twitter debuted in 2006. Yet I could not find a case of the company suspending or banning a prominent person before May 2015. While this may be due to deficiencies in reporting, it also may reflect Twitter’s claim at the time that it was “the free speech wing of the free speech party.” The following chart shows the number of monthly suspensions from 2015 to January, 2019.

I found it difficult to establish the extent to which any of the suspended individuals or groups clearly supported Republicans over Democrats or vice versa. Classifying them along the left-right axis is also problematic, as there are some figures that neither side would be eager to claim. Most prominent individuals who were suspended did express a preference in the 2016 election, however. And by restricting our analysis to this subset, and counting how many supported Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton, we can create a rough measure of whether there is bias, albeit one with a small sample size.

As noted above, of the 22 suspended individuals, only one was a Clinton supporter. This was actress-turned-activist Rose McGowan, who temporarily lost access to her account in 2017 for posting someone’s private phone number. Note that this is an unambiguous violation of Twitter’s rules, so the platform had little choice in this case. The platform does not seem to have suspended a single prominent Clinton supporter based on the substantive content of his or her expressed views.

Of course, the existence of this disparity does not prove that Twitter is actively discriminating against Trump supporters. Perhaps conservatives are simply more likely to violate neutral rules regarding harassment and hate speech. In such case, the observed data would not serve to impugn Twitter, but rather conservatives themselves.

Luckily, through the use of standard statistical methods—similar to those commonly applied to calculate confidence intervals in the physical and social sciences—one may determine that the underlying population disparity (i.e. the disparity between liberal and conservative behavioral norms) would have to be quite large in order for there to be any significant likelihood of observing a randomly constituted 22-point data set characterized by the above-described 21:1 ratio. Indeed, assuming some randomness in enforcement unrelated to bias, one would have to assume that conservatives were at least four times as likely as liberals to violate Twitter’s neutrally applied terms of service to produce even a 5% chance (the standard benchmark) that a 22-data point sample would yield a result as skewed as 21-1.

Are prominent Trump supporters more likely to break neutrally applied social media terms of service agreements than other voters? Perhaps. But are they four or more times as likely? That doesn’t seem credible.

Indeed, it is not difficult to find cases of liberals engaging in speech that appears to cross the line while not being punished for their transgressions. This includes the case of Sarah Jeong. After she was hired as an editorial writer for The New York Times, it was discovered that over the years she had posted dozens of messages expressing hatred and contempt of whites. When conservative activist Candace Owens copied some of Jeong’s tweets and replaced the word “white” with “Jewish,” she was suspended from the platform. Perhaps realizing how hypocritical this looked after they had not taken any action against Jeong, Twitter allowed Owens back on, but only after she deleted the offending tweets.

Interestingly, if you search “Sarah Jeong” in Google, you get no auto-complete suggestions regarding her controversial tweets, despite this being the source of considerable infamy. On Bing and Yahoo!, “Sarah Jeong racist” is the first offered search suggestion when her name is typed in. While one could argue that individuals’ worst moments shouldn’t follow them around forever, it is difficult to imagine a big tech company suppressing unflattering information about a conservative in a similar manner.

Another particularly shocking case is that of Kathy Griffin, who demanded that her followers make public the names of the Covington High School students who were falsely accused of aggressively harassing a Native American activist. Despite this explicit call to harass minors, she has not been sanctioned by Twitter.

Left-wing activists on college campus regularly engage in the practice of de-platforming—including the use of violence or the threat thereof as a means to prevent someone from speaking. Victims of this practice typically are conservative figures such as Ben Shapiro and Ann Coulter. At Berkley, when Milo Yiannopoulos tried to give a speech, a large mob threw stones and fireworks at police officers, and attacked members of the crowd. Around the same time, commentators noted that during the 2016 president campaign, when Bernie Sanders visited Liberty University, the evangelical institution run be Jerry Falwell, Jr., his message was met with “polite skepticism.”

Are we to believe that while prominent figures on the left encourage uncivil and even violent tactics, both on an off college campuses, their online behaviour is, with the solitary exception of Rose McGowan, universally exemplary?

Harassment and the advocacy of violence are serious issues, and there is nothing morally objectionable about social media companies removing this kind of content from their platforms. However, such laudable objectives should not be used as cover to prosecute ideological campaigns. While social media platforms are private companies, anti-discrimination laws generally allow legislators avenues to address businesses that exhibit unacceptable biases in how they treat the public.

It is unthinkable that we would allow a telephone or electricity company to prevent those on one side of the political aisle from using its services. Why would we allow social media companies to do the same?

 

Richard Hanania, Ph.D., is a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the Saltzman Institute of War and Peace Studies at Columbia University. Follow him on Twitter @RichardHanania

Featured Photograph by Kevin Krejci

49 Comments

  1. Sydney says

    Re the title, NOBODY who interacts in any conservative ways (my Twitter engagement spans the political spectrum) EVER thought they were IMAGINING it. It’s absolutely clear.

    How Jack Dorsey gets away with speaking out of both sides of his mouth on this topic (“…social media is a human right…”) is beyond me. Islamists, left-wing anti-Semites, pedophiles, and every sort of freak roams with impunity, but conservatives are shut down on a VARIETY of platforms. (Paypal’s totalitarian terms of service and Orwellian system of thought regulation is among the most chilling and repugnant). Case in point: Common-sense conservative Laura Loomer.

    • Sydney says

      Whoops, I meant Patreon’s totalitarian terms of service and Orwellian system of thought regulation (clearly seen through the deep dives of Jordan Peterson and Dave Rubin). However, Paypal and others have also shut down conservatives; so, honestly, the rest is just in the details.

  2. Mason says

    None of the Blue Check Marks who were calling for the doxxing and murders of the Covington students and their families were punished. There can’t be a more clear example than this.

  3. E. Olson says

    These results don’t surprise me, but let’s be objective in assessing the reason why. After all, everyone knows only the Right is evil and needs to have their tweet privileges revoked, while only the Left offers the reasonable and mainstream view on all issues. For example, no one in 1939 would have objected to assassinating Hitler, and Trump really is Hitler. Climate change really is going to kill everyone in 12 years, so tweets calling for the jailing of deniers should be celebrated not banned. Similarly, it should almost be seen as a public service to tweet that the Jews control the US government with Benjamins. And how could any reasonable person be against tweeting support for the right to abort a clump of 9 month old cells?

    • Craig WIllms says

      @E
      I know you’r pushing the envelope to make a point. The thing is you’re not wrong. Its like we live in topsy turvy world. The leftists expertly use projectionism as a tool. They scream racism (every ism) smearing anyone to the right of them and whip up a frenzy- and then get a pass when they soil themselves with racists behavior of their own. Somehow the right to life crowd trying to save unborn babies are the cruel monsters and the Governor who signs legislation allowing the killing of unborn babies gets a standing ovation. It’s a sick world.

      • E. Olson says

        Craig – I wish I was pushing the envelope, but every one of my “outlandish” examples of Leftist opinion are frequently expressed in the mainstream media, and by (D) politicians and celebrities with virtually no criticism except by members of the deplorable, hateful, and deplatformed Right.

  4. Why does Quilette have a Patreon button? After Patreon’s blatant discrimination against individuals purely on political belief system was made evident so clearly.

    At least switch to SubscribeStar?

    Then it won’t look so hypocritical as to what your articles profess you stand for?

    • Daniel Farnsworth says

      What you’re advocating is exactly the problem. We’re policing everybody’s associations, replacing the discussion of ideas with “who do you stand with?” I’m tired of asserting identity and image. Why can’t it be enough to think Patreon made a mistake? Why do I have to be the solution, delivering punishment and shame, for a problem I didn’t create?

      That’s what all this de-platforming is in the first place, liberal narcissists trying to solve problems that aren’t theirs to solve, i.e. everybody besides themselves. Conservatives, per their usual daftness, think that they can fight back by reversing the outrage. This codependent abusive relationship playing out on a global scale can’t be won by trying to fix other people.

      • Foyle says

        Patreon, paypal, twitter and others could have easily remained neutral platforms. They have, to their shame, chosen the path of bias and partisanship. That’s not a ‘mistake’, it’s furtive policy formed with malice of the noble-cause-corruption type. They should be censured for that, and baring unlikely bipartisan legislative action hitting their income/patronage and promoting competitors in whatever ways are viable is the only way to do that.

      • Dan Love says

        @Daniel Farnsworth

        “Patreon made a mistake”. I do not think you are well informed. It’s not “a mistake” when it’s dozens of mistakes and Patreon backs them all up, correcting none of them. No one here would judge any platform for making “a mistake”.

        You mention ‘replacing the discussion of ideas with “who do you stand with?” I’m tired of asserting identity and image.’ and ‘Conservatives, per their usual daftness, think that they can fight back by reversing the outrage’.

        But it has worked so well when their opposition has done it – really, really well. As a nonconservative, I can’t fault conservatives for trying a strategy that has worked incredibly well.

        The largest and most powerful corporations humanity has ever seen adopt and enforce an ideology that would have been considered extremist at any other time except in the last 4 years.

      • Peter from Oz says

        Daniel
        I’m going to stand with you on this point. I detest left wing ideas, but I think the best way to defeat them is to argue against them, not to stoop to the cheating and political tricks that so many leftists use.
        The fact is that the left have to use those tricks, because in reality their arguments are against nature and reason. We on the right don’t really have to do that, because our arguments are sound and reasonable.
        In my opinion the mirage of leftist ”victory” is a mile wide and an inch deep. It only takes a few people to stand up and cry ”enough” and whole mirage will vanish.
        If Patreon or some other outlet bans common sense, then start a new outlet for yourself. But don’t whine about it. Get on with getting your ideas into the market.
        SInistra delenda est

        • Too funny. Better check your bow tie is on straight, Peter from Oz.

          Have you not been actually paying any attention whatsoever to current events in the real world?

      • Hermes says

        @Farnsworth

        You’re absolutely right, sticking to the centre and maintaining dialogue is the way out of this quagmire.

        However, mistakes should usually bring repentance, judgement and change of behaviour/outlook to insure that same mistakes won’t be made again. If you carry on making the same mistake again and again, in evolutionary sense you won’t get far.

        Hence, when an individual or an entity makes a “mistake” it is expected to learn from it and improve, but if it gets away with it it’s unlikely to learn a lesson. And if a company makes the same mistakes continuously it’s only natural for competition to arise and for users to switch to competitors who won’t make the same mistake. Free market.

    • Ray Andrews (the dolphin) says

      @Louai Munajim

      Areo just offered a non Patreon donation solution so I coughed up. As soon as Claire does the same she’ll get a chunk of my money too.

  5. ccscientist says

    What is striking to me is Twitter (and others) banning prominent conservatives like Candace Owens. Really?

  6. Thanks for doing this! What has been so maddening is not to be able to prove what you know you are seeing. I saw people lose 2/3 of their followers overnight. Sometimes a few thousand would appear again but not the total. Shadowbanning was big and that happened to many following the prominent check mark people. Suddenly, I had to look for them. This really impacted people who used twitter to promote their other sites.

    I think it’s on its way out as soon as Trump is gone. I don’t miss it. Well, maybe James Woods.

  7. jimhaz says

    Rather happy to see Alex Jones/Infowars and Roger Stone banned permanently.

    Milo not so much. Meghan Murphy banning seemed unfair.

    Overall though, I’m not concerned about these twitter bans – but I think Trump is utterly horrible and I think both the politically far right and far left are more or less just professional liars and scammers.

    The Patreon ones are more of an issue.

    • Space Viking says

      I dislike banning in general. Sure, someone using a social media platform to conduct criminal activity or who uses tactics to chill discussions like spamming or doxxing needs to disappear. But given these joints allow account holders to block others, there’s really no harm in an Alex Jones shouting from the rooftop about crisis actors or Ilhan Omar ranting about “Da Joos!!!”. Don’t want to see such things? Block them!

    • Meghan Murphy is now suing Twitter over the banning: https://meghanmurphylawsuit.com/

      Complaint filed in the Superior Court of California: https://meghanmurphylawsuit.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/02/Complaint_endorsed.pdf

      The information in this excellent Quillette article could be very useful in her lawsuit. One of the allegations appears to be that Twitter is essentially engaging in false advertising by holding itself out as an impartial ‘free-speech’ platform, when Twitter’s politically biased censoring suggests that this claim is a bold-faced lie.

      Joe Rogan and Tim Pool would also be interested in the information in this article. Anyone want to tweet (heh) a like at them? My account is currently suspended and Twitter won’t tell me why or respond to my appeals.

  8. Space Viking says

    When the Sarah Jeong kerfuffle started brewing I came across a number of people who dealt with her on Twitter (she’d already gained a bit of notoriety with her activities at The Verge). Many of them said they lodged complaints but she was never sanctioned. Given Jeong averaged 30+ tweets a day before she got hired by New York Times, a Twitter “time out” would have been obvious but it never happened.

    About the time this matter was dying out, some inconvenient info suggesting liberal bias at Google, Twitter, and Facebook started coming out. One of the interesting tidbits I noticed is apparently most of the staffers at these companies held little Sarah in very high regard and endorsed her twisted world-view. To me this confirms their bias and explains why they do what they do.

  9. Lightning Rose says

    Whining is for Dem “victims.” Instead, conservatives need to invest some money in a startup (uncensored) platform of their own. Trump himself and the righty media wonks would be on it like a duck on a June bug if you could pull them the numbers. Don’t get mad–get EVEN. And make a fortune doing it! It’s only the American way.

    • Deirdre Seim says

      Oh please, no one whines more that those on the far right–Constantly crying about how the “media” is oppressing them–Jesus, you already have your own 24 hour propaganda network and dozens of right wing radio nuts. Most of the right will only be happy when all media is just like Fox News.

      • Always good to have a reasonable leftist label conservatives as “far right”, then make a claim that was never mentioned in the article.

        Keep it up, Deirdre. You’re only driving more people to the Right.

        • Deirdre Seim says

          The article, is itself, an exercise in whining with faulty statistical analysis to give it a veneer of science.

          • Deirdre, care to apologise for labelling conservatives as far right? Then making board claims for which you have no evidence?

            Do tell us why the statistical analysis isn’t up to your standards.

        • Jack B. Nimble says

          @Zidane

          There’s a lot NOT to like in this article, even beyond the statistics.

          “…….I found it difficult to establish the extent to which any of the suspended individuals or groups clearly supported Republicans over Democrats or vice versa. …. Most prominent individuals who were suspended did express a preference in the 2016 election, however. And by restricting our analysis to this subset, and counting how many supported Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton, we can create a rough measure of whether there is bias, albeit one with a small sample size…….”

          But the title refers to conservatives! Not all conservatives supported Trump in 2016; some endorsed Clinton or stayed neutral. Remember the “Against Trump” issue of National Review?

          “…..While social media platforms are private companies, anti-discrimination laws generally allow legislators avenues to address businesses that exhibit unacceptable biases in how they treat the public……”

          Only if the bias refers to a ‘protected’ class, at least in the US. Restaurants, for example, can block patrons who are dressed inappropriately provided the ban doesn’t disproportionately affect a protected class. And remember those gun shops and shooting ranges that advertise ‘no Hillary or Obama supporters allowed’? Governmental attempts to enforce ‘equal access’ based on political views are unworkable and might just reinforce the bias, depending on the ideology of the judge or legislator.

          “…..It is unthinkable that we would allow a telephone or electricity company to prevent those on one side of the political aisle from using its services. Why would we allow social media companies to do the same?…..

          Because media companies are NOT regulated monopolies that are required to serve all customers who pay their bills. Power companies and [formerly] cable and telephone companies are given monopoly access to customers, with the understanding that they will provide universal service within their area. Social media alternatives like Gab are available for those who object to Twitter.

          “…….Perhaps conservatives* are simply more likely to violate neutral rules regarding harassment and hate speech……”

          *He means Trump supporters, and it needs to be emphasized that Trump’s campaign, like his administration, is all about rule and norm breaking, including verbal abuse and borderline hate speech. This rule breaking is what attracted some voters to Trump rather than to Clinton [who was very much the establishment/normative candidate in the election]. So it is credible that Trump supporters on average are more likely to violate Twitter’s speech rules than are Clinton supporters.

          And the statistical analysis? Unless we know the proportion of liberals versus conservatives versus apoliticals in the base population from which the 22 cases were drawn, the analysis is meaningless. Maybe conservatives are more likely to use Twitter? That could account for some or all of the bias. How would we even know what the political composition of the base population looks like?

          And even in the unlikely circumstance that the base population has exactly equal numbers of liberals and conservatives, using 5% as the significance level versus 1% requires further justification, as does the use of what is apparently a ‘one-tailed’ analysis [the author is vague on this point].

    • Space Viking says

      Nah. That’s like saying the solution to an electric company bypassing a neighborhood for whatever reason is to have some enterprising soul come in and start an electricity provider to service it.

  10. Farris says

    A Wisconsin prosecutor conducted massive SWAT style raids on homes of republican opponents based upon specious legal theories. Though throughly discredited the prosecutor and his allies faced no consequences.

    The IRS illegally targeted Tea Party groups. Yet no one suffered any real consequences.

    Twitter operates with impunity towards conservatives without repercussions.

    Conclusion: Little to no risk, high reward. Altering this paradigm is the only way to bring a cessation of this nefarious conduct.

    • Bubblecar says

      “Twitter operates with impunity towards conservatives without repercussions.”

      Are you suggesting they’re breaking the law? Aren’t they free to make their own decisions in these matters?

      If you don’t like them, feel free to boycott them. But unless you’re very much opposed to free enterprise (as many on the Right seem to be these days), what other “repercussions” do you think they should be facing?

      • Barrett says

        @bubblecar

        The statement you quoted doesn’t infer criminal activity, punishment perhaps.

        In an interview with Joe Rogan, Jack Dorsey stated that access to social media is akin to human right. Now, if that is your stance, it’s fairly difficult to make a case for permanent banning. Once all social media platforms start to work on tandem in banning certain people from all of their platforms, as happened with Alex Jones for example, the earlier statement about social media being a right sounds false.

        Certainly the answer is more competition and we are seeing that now. However, majority of silicon valley is operating as a cartel and have too much control over people’s lives and it will only get worse until something like an ‘Internet Bill of Rights’ comes into force.

        As for what kind of punishment should Twitter face, loss of users, loss of revenue, loss of influence seems obvious. Countries and governments have Twitter accounts, which is an issue, I don’t like that at all. Although Twitter would die in a matter of days if President Trump’s switched to an alternative platform.

        • Bubblecar says

          I don’t use Twitter, Facebook or any of that stuff and I don’t feel in any way deprived, or lacking in “human rights” as a result.

          There are many ways of of expressing one’s views on the internet without being herded into this or that profit-orientated corporate platform.

      • Farris says

        A boycott would be a repercussions. Protests, negative press and any other method by which consumers express dissatisfaction. I understand how by utilizing examples of criminal conduct in conjunction with Twitter’s bias my lead one to infer I was calling for government action. Such is not the case. I was merely trying to show patterns of misbehavior and suggest that these patterns will continue until addressed by appropriate counter measures (in the case of Twitter repercussions should be from the agrieved consumers).

  11. Rob88 says

    Similar problems on Facebook. I posted a sentence by Che Guevara, no problem. I posted the same sentence, attributing it to Mussolini. Banned for 30 days

  12. Bubblecar says

    “But are they four or more times as likely? That doesn’t seem credible.”

    “Doesn’t seem credible” is not a credible argument. Why not look up the exact reasons those 21 users were banned? It shouldn’t take long for someone supposedly interested enough to write an article about it.

    • Zidane says

      @bubblecar

      Question everything of course, however please kindly provide your credible credentials for questioning the data

  13. Pingback: New top story on Hacker News: Not Your Imagination: Twitter Treats Conservatives More Harshly Than Liberals – Outside The Know

  14. Pingback: New top story on Hacker News: Not Your Imagination: Twitter Treats Conservatives More Harshly Than Liberals – News about world

  15. scribblerg says

    The Left ‘gaslights’ us nonstop. They screw over anyone on the Right nonstop and tell us they aren’t. I’ve been watching Jack Dorsey preen himself about on various YouTube channels lately, lying through his teeth. And for the record, gaslighting is evil. It’s a form of mental and emotional torture. The pain comes from seeing the facts so clearly but being denies agreement in the public sphere that they are so, and being treated like you are crazy or deficient somehow for seeing the facts the Left is denying. It’s incredibly pernicious and nasty.

  16. scribblerg says

    They banned a ton of folks both election cycles in the past two years. Look at the big jump in 2016 and 2018 – exactly in the final weeks of an election cycle. They should be investigated by the FEC for making contributions to the Dem party.

    Also note the author’s observation that Google is supressing conservative ideas and speech. Just the casual comment about his Google search of Sarah Jeong, that racist Chinese hack working at the NYTimes, and how Google suppresses results about her is terrifying. I regularly go to other search engines when I want contrary or negative information on Leftists or Leftist ideas. This is incredibly political and hostile.

    And they still tell us they don’t do this. At some point, something’s gonna have to be done to stop these depraved elitist hacks.

  17. scribblerg says

    I was banned permanently for making a “Learn to Code” tweet to a particularly arrogant feminist journalist from HuffPo who was publicly lamenting being laid off. The reason I was banned was really interesting. In real life, I run a chunk of a social media oriented technology company, and have a handle for my business life. I have a separate and previously anonymous account for my politics, which if I shared in my biz life would mean the end of my career, as I hire and fire etc.

    They banned me saying: “Due to having multiple accounts for the purposes of abusing people.” As well, I was told that if I tried to create another account, I’d be completely banned. So, now, I face the risk of my massive business presence on Twitter being damaged. In my job, I have to have a Twitter account. If I’m banned permanently, that damages my ability to work and earn an income.

    And for what? Telling some privileged, elitist hack from HuffPo to “Learn to Code”?

    We have to get out of the phase of clutching our pearls and being outraged. We also have stop letting them gaslight us, so we spend so much time discussing whether this is actually happening.

    We need to figure out how to fight back with actual effect…Very few people have any ideas on this subject.

  18. Pingback: Twitter’s Political Bias | Transterrestrial Musings

  19. In general I think you make a compelling case here. HOWEVER, when you get to this reasoning, you depart your good statistical methods and I think slip up:

    “Interestingly, if you search “Sarah Jeong” in Google, you get no auto-complete suggestions regarding her controversial tweets, despite this being the source of considerable infamy. On Bing and Yahoo!, “Sarah Jeong racist” is the first offered search suggestion when her name is typed in.”

    I went to google and tried your line and indeed it never auto completes “racist”. However I also tried “Donald Trump Racist” and “George Bush Racist” and it never auto completes. I think in this case, Google is suppressing every auto complete for “[name] racist”. And it is noteworthy that the FIRST auto complete result when typing in Sarah Jeong is “Sara Jeong Twitter”, which brings up multiple twitter posts and articles describing the controversy.

    I am glad to see some statistically sound methods for showing this bias. Please do keep it up. And just be careful of then piling on with unsound techniques. It allows people disagreeing to just cherry pick these sloppy techniques to indict the entire case.

  20. “It is unthinkable that we would allow a telephone or electricity company to prevent those on one side of the political aisle from using its services.”

    It is unthinkable that we would allow Mastercard or PayPal to prevent those on one side of the political aisle from using their services, and yet here we are.

  21. mbabbitt says

    The people at Twitter who encourage or implement this bias are twits. Imagine if a new platform arose that provided similar functionality to Twitter but enforced its clearly stated standards fairly. Bye bye Twitter.

Leave a Reply