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