The Throttling Theory
A few days ago, Youtuber Mister Metokur (formerly known as InternetAristocrat1) uploaded a video entitled „Throttling Theory“.
In this video he alleges that Twitter, the infamous social network which has been known to use the iron fist against Alt-Right accounts2 while also applying much more leniency against ISIS accounts3, has been developing a new way of obscuring „unwanted“ content on their platform, which would go far beyond the capabilities of the usual „shadow-banning“.
„Shadow-banning“ refers to the most wide-spread method of silencing users in a subtle way, and its praxis has been long known on sites like Reddit, Twitter, and Tumblr. It consists primarily in action taken by the site’s moderators that practically isolate the targeted user from the rest of the community: their posts cannot be read, interacted with in any fashion, and direct links usually yield no results. But shadow-banning is relatively easy to uncover, as it just requires a simple search of one’s own account/content when logged out or by another user. After that, it can be circumvented by simply creating a new account.
But Mister Metokur describes „Throttling“ on Twitter as a new practice put together by the company to tackle dissenting opinions even more effectively. But what does it consist of? As Mister Metokur explains, it is an ingenious control applied on the community revolving around a targeted user; it essentially prevents the most active users (those who often engage with the targeted user, those who retweet the most while also giving beneficial exposure to the targeted user through their own following) from seeing the targeted user’s content, thereby practically curb-stomping the traffic that the latter receives.
Thus, users that rarely retweet or reply to the user’s tweets are still going to be able to interact with them, but also those users that are very active but have an extremely low number of followers themselves; on the other hand, those that serve as „amplifiers“ are going to be deeply affected.
This is a new step-up in Twitter’s repressive measures that are being advertised as being against „fake news“ or „trolls“, but are obviously going to affect dissident users the most. It is also on a whole new level of ingeniousness as compared to shadow-banning, as it indirectly stifles the exposure one can enjoy in a much more efficient manner, abandoning the erga omnes approach, while also becoming much trickier to detect. They are able to engineer such a system thanks to the incredibly detailled analytics they have access to.
So, the echo chamber (or „safe space“) that is Twitter is tightening its grip. They are tightening the knot around the neck of freedom of speech on the internet; further measures of this kind can be expected on other major social networks in the future as well, as the political divide in the West deepens (We are all aware of the relationship between Merkel and Zuckerberg). The situation is going to only get worse with the rise of the Right in Europe in 2017. We must brace for it.
You can watch the video for yourself: