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A senior Twitter engineer told me in private this is actually true in a lot of cases. Shadowbanning is often just a temporary infrastructure issue. Twitter is massively reliant on distributed indexes which can fail and require rebuilding. Not sure I'm using the right words.
I wonder how much of the shadowbanning phenomenon (accounts randomly disappearing from search/threads/tl) is just infrastructure failure they don't want to cop to
60 replies and sub-replies as of May 19 2018

A very important cognitive bias in humans that served us well in 99% of our history was assuming in simple, purposeful explanation for results. That has broken down in a specialized society relying on complex systems. We assume all failure modes in other industries are simple.
In this case, we assume a Twitter infrastructure failure is a purposeful, vengeful act because we both (1) Do not understand how a complex system can fail (2) Do not like believing in bad things happening to us for random reasons nobody is purposely at fault for
Additionally, when shadowbanning does happen, it's, as of the last time I read about it, an automated spam response triggered by an algorithm. Spam systems are notoriously obscure magic. Twitter staff saying THEY don't shadowban people can strictly correct in the right context.
Remember when Wikileaks made a bunch of hoopla about Facebook blocking their links? You really think a human did that? No, I talked to an engineer there, it was an automated security threat system. Side note, Wikileaks actually hosts malicious emails in some of their dumps.
We are all pattern-matching creatures who assume the worst living in a world that iterates at a pace that makes it physically impossible for any one person to understand more than a small percentage of it. Welcome to how 2018 happened.
Furries are a manifestation of our overactive anthropomorphic pattern-matching
Threads like these are precisely why I follow you.
Good points, but there are other times when the shadowbans are purposeful. While we have to recognize that it might be the tech, it could also be malicious and we can’t discredit that off the bat either.
The ability to purposefully shadowban someone may have been anti-spam featureset that was later given a human interface, yes, I don't know.
Short and sweet - there it is¡ Brilliantly simple explanation.
@bcgperspectives We need not fear #information that is moving faster, #human #perception will adjust - We call that #evolution. But first, #NaturalSelection.
Meanwhile Kim Dotcom and Assange fighting for their lives, talkin bout they freedom fighters. Man, fk them. They putting the world in danger
Goethe, 1774 “And I have again observed, my dear friend, in this trifling affair, that misunderstandings and neglect occasion more mischief in the world than even malice and wickedness. At all events, the two latter are of less frequent occurrence.”
Hanlon’s razor is also common, but with complex distributed systems it’s not usually incompetence or stupidity, as Hanlon states. Parts of the internet are transiently unavailable all the time. Same for anything that rides on top of that network.
Another case in point was the burp in IP reputation in 2013 which led to Facebook blocking Tor; people jumped on bogus hypotheses like "FB hates anonymity because adverts" or "FB hates activists", not "tech screwup".
r/technology - Facebook Blocks Log-ins from Tor Browser Putting Thousands of Political Activist at Risk
2361 votes and 1467 so far on reddit
reddit.com
Aside: it was this event, and @runasand's / Tor's help in defusing the bullshit, which directly led to the onionifying of Facebook, the .onion TLD, certs, etc. It's amazing what a little understanding will achieve, if one tries. Certainly better than @ioerror's random hatred.
none of these things would be serious problems if these platforms could be expected to have timely human responses to algorithmic errors
heck, IRC networks have pages to report erroneous automated K-lines
when you make algorithmic failure look identical to a human saying "fuck you", you don't get to complain when people assume the latter
how stupid of people to think ever cooperative facebook would actively suppress information coming from one of the few real
information distributes, in the interests of the political group that has very succesfully coopted it.
and furthermore wikileaks dumps have harmful emails in them so pretty much distributing malware,zuckerburg can fuk my holes
Does Hanlon’s apply? If I leave someone a voicemail and they don’t call me back, did that person shadowban me? Possibly. Also possible they forgot, put it down for later, etc. Links etc disappearing could be sinister or it could be other. Why not assume other?
you know as well as anyone that ML is a cop-out to avoid taking responsibility for your own failure to moderate well
the designers of the algorithm are responsible for its errors if they don't understand how it works either, they're responsible for that, like it or not
It does happen relating to specific tweets being said, and more likely in accounts with a certain viewpoint. Equally, how many blue tick accounts have suffered this fate?
All fascinating but I want corn facts.
(3) think that twitter people (and other IT people) just are too overconfident with their abilities to solve these problems quickly or even think about these problems in advance.
We believe our failures are bad luck and others’ are a lack of skill
I mean, to be entirely fair, it's also 100% in-character for twitter to fuck people over for no reason and then fail to communicate about it
Your second reason is especially true for IT.. I mean, "it's a machine so it can't possibly fail randomly.."
The “eventual” in “eventual consistency” means that for a while, users do not always get consistent responses to requests.
Company I used to work for hosted site for org which had a massive sales spike one day a year. Pre-cloud, so Infra was sized for regular traffic. Meaning on this day, site became difficult to use. Users had all sorts of conspiracy theories. Reality was mundane tech limits.
So they sold those little country flags and the spike was the day before the Last Night of the Proms? Or did they make Guy Fawkes masks and the spike was the day before Bonfire Night?
Yup. Don't work at Twitter, but do work on large distributed stuff. Every conspiracy theory is born out of, "I think I am important, and I don't understand why this is hard." In general, nobody wants to thwart you, and stuff you don't understand is often very hard.
In addition, I seem to be seeing the same tweets over and over in my TL. I assume each tweet has a unique tag so why show it to me more than once when there are many tweets I am not seeing from the few thousand accounts I follow?
We are all animists at heart.
Except people were getting notifications that their account was locked immediately after tweeting certain phrases. I figured it was a breakdown of a system, just an overly aggressive anti-bot algorithm than a more innocent database or indexing error.
Other "shadow ban" issues without notifications or a clear trigger are absolutely likely to be an infrastructure problem, though
This is also true for complex organizations. As my much larger company acquires very small ones, the newly acquired see every bad thing as a deliberate decision by some anonymous power, and I have to explain, no... we are just imperfect and we messed up.
why are u nerdy losers shilling so hard for a bunch of dumb ass risk averse algorithms that reinforce this hell?
Do you know how to contact a real person at Twitter? I have an index rebuild issue (that's precisely the problem) and using dms for help or tweeting @TwitterSupport isn't working. For 2 months, my analytics stats are zeroes on retweets, likes, replies.
Have you tried reaching out in the dev forums or someone on the api team? Maybe @andypiper
So, block chain would fix it all!
I'm not a database engineer but I am database adjacent. I could definitely see how distributed index/distributed cache issues could look like shadowbans.
i built postgres text search for a small healthcare company and it's also REALLY easy to shadowban people with poorly tested weights/scoring and relevance thresholds. it's so easy to just... not return important resources in search
What else did people tell you in private?
Pokemon balls are reverse tesseracts. When you throw a Pokeball, you're catching yourself.
Aaah the silph road sounded familliar
That explains why some tweets I found on my phone disappeared sometimes when I tried looking them up later on on PC
I used to see a lot of "event replay" crap from Facebook (2010-2011) that was easily attributed to failure recovery. I still see this kind of thing with Twitter sometimes; eg a "someone liked tweet" message re-fires when I already saw it hours ago.
Oh so that's what's going on...!
Idk. @housemaidfear when they still around was shadowbanned for 3 months. There is no war in Bah Singh Sae.
this is absolutely correct
I don't think this helps making them look/feel any less insidious. It just feels like a layer of plausible deniability on top.