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#Shadowbanned (on twitter)

(I’m delighted with this featured image. It feels more than appropriate!)

 

Good afternoon.

Most of the people within the former Jehovah Witnesses community (EX-JW) are aware that some of us have been shadowbanned over and over. Specifically targeted by twitter’s automatons. As dull and repetitive this topic has been in the last few weeks.. that hasn’t changed the fact that it still happens. And I doubt it will get better.

As such, this blog post will describe a brief summary of what is happening and my thoughts on the community’s reactions thus far to such events.

 

First of all, to make it clear for those who are unaware of what a Shadowban is, I will describe it:

Shadowban is when an account is flagged by a specific social media. It does not warn the user, it is simply applied to the account.

When an account is flagged with a Shadowban, the user is able to access everything as usual. However, their posts and interactions with others will remain invisible. Other people won’t receive notifications from the flagged account. They will not know if the account liked, shared or said anything. Followers will be able to see a few posts on their feed for a few brief moments. Otherwise, they will only be visible on the flagged account’s page. Non-followers will be unable to see or find the flagged account on their search bars.. unless someone that isn’t shadowbanned mentions the flagged account.

The only way for a non-follower to find a shadowbanned account is to click an outside source link to the account. Or to click the link of the flagged account if someone (that isn’t flagged) mentions the account.

In short, Shadowbanning is social media’s cunning way to punish an account without them noticing they were punished.. unless they pay extra attention to how their own followers interact with their content. The number of “impressions” or “views” lowers drastically. Interactions lower as well. A flagged account won’t notice if their content is invisible unless they log off or use a different browser and search for their own accounts (it’s important to clear the cache/cookies/history files before doing so).

The social media platforms that have used this method thus far, as far as I’m aware, are Facebook, Twitter and Tumblr. Youtube has other similar methods, though those are usually targeted to content creators that monetize their content.

 

Now that we have defined the term that we’ll be discussing on this blog post, it is important to note that several accounts on the EX-JW community have been flagged. Some of these accounts have been flagged more than once. Usually the pattern being that an account is flagged for a full week, only after exactly 72 hours or so to be flagged once again for another week. Those include, but not only limited to these accounts:

 

Of course, the most relevant question remains. Why? Some of these accounts do not even have a half thousand followers. Most of them are not extreme with their views, their posts. Humor aside once in a while, most of the content provided by these accounts does not threaten anyone. They expose and criticize the Jehovah Witnesses as a cult. In fact, bigger and more active accounts have not been flagged.

 

It’s not easy to be concrete and provide evidence to any claim. Twitter, as a platform, is not open to debate such topics with the public. Though other communities and individuals have been victims of such (including Ex-Muslims, Ex-Scientologists and Ex-Mormons), there is no clear answer as to why and how such accounts get shadowbanned. We do know, however, that Twitter does not rely on humans to flag people. In fact, there are programs that substitute the need for humans to evaluate such reports. The applications that twitter runs scans tweets, it reads full sentences and comes to the conclusion if the tweets are threatening or against their own rules. Without warning, the same applications flag the account. All without a human behind to evaluate the occurrences. Does this mean that the EX-JW community uses certain words or sentences that twitter’s applications detect as being threatening or against their rules? Such does not seem to be the case. There are more offensive accounts on the platform and they never got flagged by automatons.

However, there is also something else that may lead to someone being flagged and shadowbanned: Being reported. If a good number of people report an account to twitter and the twitter automatons verify that the claims are true, then the account is flagged. An account could also be reported for spamming, though I am almost certain that such is not the case. Given the number of accounts being flagged collectively and aggressively.. the answer becomes obvious. These EX-JW accounts are being reported by someone or a group of people.

 

Given these accounts’ content, it is impossible to ignore the possibility that a few Jehovah Witnesses, in an effort to silence us from the platform, have decided to report a good number of EX-JW accounts. An organized effort, with malicious purposes. If that is true, we cannot fully ignore that Twitter, as a platform, is also responsible for their software to be easily manipulated by any collective effort to bully accounts out of the platform. It does not only take a collective effort of people to report an account, the software used by Twitter must also find fault in what the account tweets or retweets. Somehow, the EX-JW community content is seen by Twitter as something worthy to be flagged by demand and silenced from the larger audience.

 

In short, the answer as to why these accounts have been flagged is.. a mixture of incompetence from Twitter and an collective effort from a group of people to silence the community.

 

Twitter, of course, has yet to answer to any of these accounts as to why they have been flagged. Their answers have been standard and unimpressive, providing always a list of all the rules but never ever determine what tweet in specific has made it possible for the accounts to be flagged. Is it the content? Are the accounts spamming? Was a tweet offensive? Not a single word. Yet the shadowbans continue.

So I ask, what is the point of using Twitter if one cannot reach a wider audience, given that the automatons won’t stop flagging us?

I asked that question to someone on twitter, another EX-JW, who expressed their opinion by saying that moving to other platforms is not wise because it would turn our community to an echo-chamber of sorts. I strongly disagree. Right now, with the constant flow of shadowbans, I cannot reach a wider audience. My tweets are mostly only seen by my own followers (and even so, barely). Those that I follow, I can hardly see their tweets too given that they, too, are shadowbanned most of the time. In short, Twitter already forced me to an echo-chamber. So, again, what is the point of using a wide platform like Twitter.. if these social media websites will hide our content from the public regardless?

Besides the warm feeling of having your own followers interacting with your content, the content stagnates. Strangely enough, as ironic as it may seem, ever since I personally have been shadowbanned, I’ve gained a good number of followers (somewhere between a third or a fourth more than my inicial amount).

 

So, to those who have been reporting our accounts.. I ask you instead. What is the point of your constant reports? Because one day, you’ll get tired. It has also given me more followers and support that I otherwise probably wouldn’t have. If those reporting our accounts are Jehovah Witnesses, then I have bad news for you. Watchtower still doesn’t count hours spent on the internet reporting “apostate” accounts at the end of each month. So please, don’t be lazy and go outside with your carts and tablets. It will be time better spent and you may have a prettier house in Paradise if you do so, next to a famous biblical prophet or something. You already shun us, no need to be more petty than that.

Also, for a world that seems to be under the control of an evil being, it sure seems like this being has no control over social media, given that social media keeps shadowbanning the group of people who have a better chance at criticizing your cult than any other. One would think that satan would be helping us with our tweets to spread as wide and far as possible..

 

 

As for me, I’ve promised that I’d start doing Youtube videos eventually. I intend to keep that promise, so expect that to happen in a few weeks or a month or two at worst, dear reader. Also I’ll be doing more blog posts here and on ExJWsisters’ blog. I’ve already done my first blog post on that website two weeks ago.

I would like to thank those who have been supporting me. Either with their likes, retweets, follows, mentions and private messages!

Have a lovely weekend~

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Hi! I’m a [Label]

 

(Obligatory comment about the featured image)

 

Good afternoon!

 

It’s been a while since I wrote something more.. existential, abstract yet sententious. This is a topic that I’ve been personally invested for years since I decided to look outside the little cult indoctrination box that I’ve, since then, abandoned completely.

 

Labels. Personally, I loathe them. Such a convenient social trap that we all fall into, with no exception, without even noticing. With labels, comes the human desire to form our own tribes, our own bubbles. And within the bubbles, a cult mentality is developed. And when there’s a cult mentality, it is acceptable to demonize those outside of it. To invite others into the tribe, into the cult. The cult of a [label], where you have abandoned your individuality, your potential. Molded to fit the criteria and the ideology of the tribe, which then leads to the development of stereotypes to those from the outside. Our happiness exists as long the other members agree that you belong in this tribe. Singing in one voice, such a beautiful shallow melody!

And all of this.. because being part of a cult of a [label] makes you feel safe from your own fragile unfulfilled ego that has never bloomed because society pressured you into tiny little boxes. Boxes are easier to organize, to label, to talk in praise or distastefully.

Or perhaps a label makes you feel unique, special. It gives you the love you need from those who look up to the label you carry. Either with amazement or as an oppressed individual that needs to be heard. The virtual signaling, the voices that perceive you as a complex human being with enough experience to raise the voice with authority against those from other tribes and labels. Clearly, an individual with a good moral compass and intentions that could do no wrong. Proudly informing about the [label]. They are the [label]. Without it, they are nothing, lost, boring. No one likes an average.

But enough about the abstract thinking. This has always been a problem with society, with humanity.

 

It’s.. so easy to fall. I’m no exception, and neither are you. Even if we vainly, yet graciously, remind our acquaintances of how we avoid labeling ourselves and others and, instead, treat everyone and oneself as an unique individual.. we still decide to label ourselves over things that are nonessential and, when our individual egos are under pressure, we are quick to dismiss others and label them. Because it’s easy to label.

The reasons as to why we resort to labels depends from person to person. Either to protect our own egos, to attack or because of our biases. Plus, it’s easier to communicate! Instead of revealing your personality, likes and dislikes, little by little and within the boundaries of your own vocabulary.. how about packing everything into a nifty worded label? Someone already did the job for you, to wrap part of your being into a word, in the dictionary.

 

But.. is it really worth it? Is it worth to carry the burden of calling yourself a [label]? Of introducing yourself by the use of a [label] or two? Can you handle the pressure of those who have gained a bias or dislike over your labels? Will you crumble and decide to fight back by talking down to those of the opposing tribes by insulting them with more labels? Will you ever reach your true potential as an individual?

Will you.. truly be happy? Or will you destroy the child within you as you walk the path?

 

If you ask an average person about what is the key to achieve true happiness, they’ll answer with a cliche that almost everyone knows it deep down. That, most of all, be yourself. Do the things you truly enjoy, be with those who know you for what you are and not for something you are not.

No one knows who you are except yourself. It’s a life journey that requires you to reflect on your own emotions, your own subconscious and thoughts. The way the world reacts to your presence, to your words, to your gestures and actions. To release the chains that society will try to impose on you in order to mold you into an ideal. To join the tribe, the nation, the religion, the cult, the tribe, the family.

Society will try to label you. As a child, you will swallow those labels and you will accept them, accept what society wants of you. Will society choke you, with all the chains they’ll wrap you up with? Like a riddle, will you find yourself beneath the darkness? And if you do indeed break some of those chains, will you learn nothing from the experience and repeat history against yourself and others?

 

It is more than obvious that we are social creatures and we live in society. We cannot excuse ourselves from society in general, from other people. We will repeat the same mistakes over and over and it will always be a never ending struggle.

However, there are plenty of ways to avoid most of those issues and mistakes. We cannot expect society to change according to our own flawed ideals. People will use labels, people will form tribes, people will eventually form cults. People will love and people will hate.

 

Obviously, being aware that humans have that quirk that they cannot avoid is a good way to be self conscious when we do it. We can become aware when others do it and, as such, avoid unnecessary pain and repression. After all, we don’t want to regress to a state of blind devotion to a cult like mentality, do we? Knowing when we are being dismissive to an opposing view given to preconceived biases and, thus, feeling no guilt over labeling someone as something hurtful; allow us to stop, reconsider our stance and make the necessary adjustments to avoid any form of bigotry and offence.

 

Examining ourselves will also allow us to reach our true selves. No one knows you better than you. And you want people to know you for what you truly are. There’s no better felling than being loved for what you actually are and not for what you aren’t. This is basic and common knowledge yet, regardless, we hold ourselves back all the time. This is not wrong by itself depending on the circumstances and the people around us but the goal should always be to not lose focus of your own self and not fall for the pressure of those who speak louder and with authority.

 

Of course, again, it’s important to note that we do live alongside other people. Basic etiquette should never be dismissed. We cannot expect the whole society to bow down to our own individual thoughts that may, or not, be controversial for the majority. Instead of being arrogant about our self perceived superior ideologies that we believe to have, it is perhaps more beneficial for ourselves and for society if we respect the opposing view. Or, if the topic really matters and both sides want to remain civil, have an honest yet polite discussion. Never demonizing, but acknowledging the differences and allow the other side to move on, an agree to disagree.

 

Avoiding to use labels to describe ourselves and others is also a good method to avoid conflict and further divisions. We will never know how a certain person feels about the [label]. When you use a label on yourself (specially if it represents a very small group of individuals), you are allowing others to create an image of you that may very well be incorrect. Or, also just as worse, you are allowing others to use you as an example for future encounters with anyone that shares the same label. And not everyone is able to look beyond the labels and the stereotypes, the bigotry that blinds them. When you label yourself and someone already has a few biases that affect their judgement, everything you say or do will be taken accordingly to their biases. Like a translator, their interpretation of your own words and actions may not be accurate to reality. Because they cannot look beyond the stereotypes and the biases. You’ve told the world that you are a [label]. The world will judge you has a [label], specially if you make your own public life and personality around the [label].

 

So it’s best to avoid the use of [labels], specially when you are introducing yourself to a person. With most people in society! Can you handle the pressure of being judged because of the label that you carry on your chest at all times? You lose your individually and you become “that one [label]”.

Labeling others is also not beneficial. It matters not how much they appear to act, present themselves or even the words they use seem alike to those of whatever [label]. When you label someone, you can no longer see them as the way they truly are. And people aren’t blind. If they feel they are being judged wrongly by you, they will avoid you. Or, worst case scenario, they will judge you back and just as harshly. Plus more divisions occur. Is that what you wish? To humiliate and to be humiliated in return? Not everyone will stay quiet when they are constant targets of wrong accusations over things they are not guilty of.

 


 

Anyway.. I’m quite sure that I’m rambling at this point over things that most people are already aware of. And quite an unorganized ramble this was!

 

Yet here we are. Walking back to previous times. Society is fracturing more and more. No one wants to listen to the other side. No one wants to respect the other side. Demonizing the other side is acceptable. Violence is becoming acceptable in some cases, over petty disagreements. Sensationalism, virtue signaling, bigotry on all sides (no exceptions). Labels being thrown around quite wrongly and names being tossed on the mud because someone said something that they shouldn’t or wasn’t understood. Over-sensitive, adults throwing tantrums, more division, more segregation. More labels, no debate, no arguments, no facts, no truth.

All of this.. because we want to be heard. We want to be loved. We want to be fulfilled. We want to save.. our own egos, to satisfy it, to feel safe. For others to tickle our ears with the things we want to hear and not the things that should be said. Because everything is offensive. Because everything is wrong. Because I’m a [label].. and you are a [label], thus less human.

 

The time to be honest, the time for civilized conversations and respectful debates.. is needed. But those times never existed on the full extent. There were no golden days of liberty and freedom of speech. But just different shades of ignorance, on every side of the spectrum.

The most important thing to remember is that no one believes that what they are doing.. is wrong. No one believes to be doing something bad. There are no bad people, just people who sometimes do bad things that they feel justified to and, ultimately, see it as good. And some of those bad things are written in history books and will be reminded by everyone.

As long as we know that, as long as we know that we are all humans who just want to be good people, honest to their true selves.. we will be able to respect them and to criticize their ideas without resorting to mockery, witch hunting or personal attacks. That has never worked in the long run..

 

But why? Why is there a need to explain the obvious? I believe everyone knows all of these things that I wrote within their own hearts. It’s common sense, there’s nothing new in what I’m saying. But again.. here we are. We are.. so dumb. Going back, instead of going forward. Times are changing again.

But hey, we have labels to make things easier for us! Just pick a [label], join a tribe (and, therefore, a cult), slap others with [labels] (virtue signaling) and everyone on your tribe will love you because you totally showed them! Oh you.. prolific snob you!

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