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Twitter CEO claims shadow banning of 600,000 accounts was due to faulty 'filtering' algorithms

By Cal Jeffrey · 7 replies
Sep 5, 2018
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  1. Dorsey confirmed that hundreds of thousands of accounts had been "filtered," but claims that it was the result of a software error and not intentional.

    “We build our policies and rules with a principle of impartiality: objective criteria, rather than on the basis of bias, prejudice, or preferring the benefit to one person over another for improper reasons,” said Dorsey in his opening statement in front of the House Energy and Commerce Committee today. “In the spirit of accountability and transparency: recently we failed our intended impartiality. Our algorithms were unfairly filtering 600,000 accounts, including some members of Congress, from our search auto-complete and latest results. We fixed it.”

    The Twitter boss went on to explain that the filtering occurred due to an algorithm that looks at how followers of the shadow banned accounts behaved on the platform. In other words, if followers of Trey Gowdy (only an example) showed a tendency to be trolls, Gowdy's tweets would be filtered by the algorithm. Of course, this is an unfair measure enforced upon the account holder who has no control over how his or her followers behave.

    Dorsey even admitted that this was not a fair way to assess accounts and assured lawmakers that the issue was resolved.

    He also stressed that Twitter is continually trying to improve the AI that it uses so that it performs in an impartial manner. However, “accidental bias” sometimes arises in the algorithms depending on what data it is fed. Dorsey claims this is a frequent issue with artificial intelligence.

    He also claimed Twitter as a platform held no bias toward one sect of government or the other. Physical analysis of the data seemed to back up this assertion.

    “Looking at the data, we analyzed tweets sent by all members of the House and Senate, and found no statistically significant difference between the number of times a tweet by a Democrat is viewed versus a Republican, even after our ranking and filtering of tweets has been applied,” said the CEO.

    While Congress remained respectful of Dorsey’s opening monologue, many on Twitter were unconvinced of his sincerity.

    Despite the denials of bias and the excuses of algorithms, it is not likely that this issue will die any time soon. Twitter has a long history of bias accusations behind it, and that is not going to just disappear. It is also worth mention that the outright banning of gay conservative Milo Yiannopoulos was based on the same criteria that the supposedly faulty algorithm used.

    Permalink to story.

    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 6, 2018
  2. MannerMauler

    MannerMauler TS Addict Posts: 206   +53

    Typo, "toward on sect" seems like it should be "toward one sect"

    Also, is "help" supposed to be "has"?
    Cal Jeffrey likes this.
  3. p51d007

    p51d007 TS Evangelist Posts: 1,893   +1,168

    Anyone buying that line of mule fritters?
  4. Michael Giggs

    Michael Giggs TS Rookie

    Not buying it. :poop:
  5. thews86

    thews86 TS Booster Posts: 40   +42

    Political censorship from big tech, who would have ever guessed? Chop their companies up like the Rockefellers.
  6. stewi0001

    stewi0001 TS Evangelist Posts: 2,138   +1,556

    Honestly, I don't care and I feel like congress is wasting its time.

    Also, I have no idea if Jack is full of it or not. However, I do know that algorithms can have issues although with the advancement of AI it should be less. For some reason Microsoft's chat bot comes to mind and how messed up that got lol!
  7. Uncle Al

    Uncle Al TS Evangelist Posts: 5,146   +3,569

    Isn't it amazing that our elected officials seem to swallow this crock each and every time? what kind of message would it send if they simply withdrew their license to operate and shut one of them down completely? Do you think the industry would sit up and take notice? It certainly happened when they busted up Standard Oil decades ago. Might be a good "learning opportunity" for all the tech industry. Where is old Teddy Roosevelt when we need him!
  8. Cal Jeffrey

    Cal Jeffrey TS Evangelist Topic Starter Posts: 1,651   +398

    Thanks for the feedback. And 'help' was actually supposed to be 'held.' Corrections made.

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