Tom Fitton, president of conservative watchdog group Judicial Watch, claims he faced repercussions from Twitter after his organization’s Freedom of Information Act case seeking the release of the FBI’s FISA warrants for the surveillance of former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page, and President Donald Trump giving him a shout-out via social media.
.@JudicialWatch gets the FISA docs, then @realDonaldTrump tweets us out repeatedly, then we force FBI to try to get Comey docs, and then I find out I had been shadowbanned on Twitter. Connection? https://t.co/qGqmsnq57m pic.twitter.com/A4b1vAqSZc
— Tom Fitton (@TomFitton) July 30, 2018
“.@JudicialWatch gets the FISA docs, then @realDonaldTrump tweets us out repeatedly, then we force FBI to try to get Comey docs, and then I find out I had been shadowbanned on Twitter. Connection?” Fitton said in a tweet Monday morning.
“Shadow banning” refers to when people’s social media profiles aren’t showing up, even though they were never deactivated. The term was used when certain high-profile Republicans’ Twitter profiles no longer appeared when entered into the search bar, making it seem that their accounts no longer existed, or at the very least making it more difficult to access them. VICE News reported on this last week, prompting President Donald Trump to tweet about it to his 53.4 million followers.
Fitton’s tweet about this included a link to a 35-minute address. At the 23:14 mark, after delving into various details related to Page’s FISA warrant, Fitton discussed how he believes he was the target of shadow banning. Twitter explained that the supposed shadow banning of Fitton and other conservatives was the result of a glitch, but Fitton wasn’t buying it, given that President Trump mentioned him on Twitter prior to this happening.
“I had been tweeted out five or six times by the President of the United States and I’m banned, however indirectly, by Twitter? I mean is that a coincidence?”
Fitton said that any shadow ban that may have been in place has since been lifted.
Twitter addressed the shadow bans in a blog post. They said:
We do not shadow ban. You are always able to see the tweets from accounts you follow (although you may have to do more work to find them, like go directly to their profile). And we certainly don’t shadow ban based on political viewpoints or ideology.
The blog post noted that none of the affected users’ tweets were hidden. “The accounts, their tweets and surrounding conversation about those accounts were showing up in search results,” they said. “As of yesterday afternoon, this issue was resolved.”
Twitter said that the issue affected hundreds of thousands of users, and Republicans were not the only ones who had to deal with it. The company did address the accounts of Republican representatives whose accounts were impacted, saying, “the issue had more to do with how other people were interacting with these representatives’ accounts than the accounts themselves.”
[Image via Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images]