Conservative commentator Dave Rubin shared his insights into Twitter following two days at the company’s headquarters in San Francisco, detailing his interactions with Twitter owner Elon Musk and the platform’s “shadowbanning” algorithms, which he says go far deeper than most people realize.
Musk called Twitter a “A Fractal Rube Goldberg Machine.”
“As they fix the code more problems arise. A delicate balance he likened to a Jenga tower. One wrong move the whole thing collapses. They’re working nonstop, and both times I met him were after midnight,” wrote Rubin.
Rubin shared his insight into the inner workings of the platform, which Musk called an "accurate thread."
In his thread, Rubin said he spoke to several engineers investigating why numerous accounts had been crippled after Musk’s takeover of the platform. The software engineers discovered “secret” labels causing shadowbans, including “recent abuse strike”, “recent misinformation strike” and “recent suspension strike”.
It remains unclear how these strikes affect visibility, however, they also found an extensive keyword database intended to block violence, pornography, and other explicit content, but which includes the innocuous term “gay”.
“Also, there’s an entire KeyWord database so that machine learning makes sure not to promote violence, porn etc., but it’s a mess of overreaching words. Literally the word ‘gay’ was on the KeyWord list which would make you not advertiser friendly and harm the tweet in the algo,” explained Rubin.
“Backing up for a sec, they found the ‘recent suspension strike’ on my account most interesting because it was [from] July 2022, when I was suspended for calling out Jordan Peterson’s unjust suspension,” clarified Rubin. “So though the suspension was reversed the action on the account remained.”
The commentator stated that Musk’s team is conscious of the issues, and the changes they’ve implemented, such as the introduction of the “For You” tab, have caused confusion and harmed the visibility of accounts labeled NSFA (not safe for advertising).
The engineers are also unsure why things improved when Musk first took over, as the World Cup excitement may not fully explain the current predicament.
In Rubin’s conversations with Musk, he stated that the notion that anyone who’s not “woke” is “far right” intrigued Musk.
"That notion is deeply connected to how screwy things got at Twitter and he’s working to fix it despite the huge challenges ahead,” wrote Rubin.
“What’s also really crazy now having seen under the hood is that Jack Dorsey repeatedly said they don’t shadowban,” he concluded. “The entire machine behind Twitter is designed to shadowban. It’s almost as if that was the primary goal rather than the product itself.”