Twitter Refutes Bias Charges, Says Indian Employees Don’t Make Enforcement Decisions

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Twitter has put out a blog post in which the company says that employees in India are not the ones making enforcement decisions with regards to its policies. The social media giant also refuted the claims that it was biased against accounts with a certain political ideology.

Twitter was summoned by Parliamentary Standing Committee on Information Technology to examine the issues regarding citizen’s rights on “social or online news media platforms” on February 11.

Twitter was accused of being biased against right-wing accounts, including those who support BJP in India, with claims that Twitter inclines towards left-wing accounts, which are not suspended even for hate-speech and abusive posts.

The detailed blog post refuting against the allegations is written by Colin Crowell‎, who is the head of Global Public Policy and philanthropy at the social network, expressing that the product or the company’s policies have not been “developed nor evolved on the basis of political ideology.”

Moreover, the blog spot explains that the Indian employees at the company are not making enforcement decisions, and this has been done to ensure fairness, objectivity. Twitter says that any form of hate-speech or abusive conduct, regardless of the political or ideological spectrum, will face consequences on the social network.

 

“We have a specialized, global team that enforces the Twitter Rules with impartiality,” Crowell writes.

Admitting that at times the social media can make mistakes, Crowell writes that these “not political statements of intent; they are the basic human error rate of running the fastest, most open conversational tool in history.”

Twitter also addressed the charges around the issues with trending topics and said many of these allegations have no “factual basis”.

One of the arguments that the right-wing supporters made against Twitter is that the social media platform shows trends leaning towards left-wing higher than that of the right-wing, even if the number of tweets are lower for the former.

The post, while refuting this accusation, says that the number of tweets on a topic is just one of the factor determining ranks, trends. An important factor in determining trends is the number of tweets in a given time period (i.e, velocity) which is not necessarily related to the total number of tweets (i.e, volume), stated the blog.

When a topic downgrades from trending it is because “volume and velocity have dissipated,” says Twitter. Topics are “driven by impartial, purpose-built algorithms,” says the social network.

Twitter says the only topics that the company avoids from getting into trending are the topics that contain profanity or adult/graphic references or incite hate or violate the Twitter Rules. These decisions are made by trained experts and never on the basis of political ideology, insists Twitter.

Twitter has also denied the use of political ideologies to rank content saying users are in control of the content they say.

Twitter also mentions that it is working with the Indian political parties to “verify candidates, elected officials, and relevant party officials.” These accounts have to be chosen by the political parties themselves and Twitter only reviews them to check if they match the standard.

Twitter also addressed the depleting follower count on the platform, which has been reported by a few users in India. Twitter has been removing inactive users on the platform since July 2018, which has resulted in a change of four followers or fewer for some users, according to the post, but some people with larger follower counts experienced more significant drops.

Twitter says that it was a global initiative and not targeted on any particular geography, political ideology or account.

“Our work to proactively identify and challenge problematic accounts globally is ongoing. To that end, follower counts may continue to change regularly however, this is not linked to political partisanship and the process does not target any individual user or geography,” Crowell wrote.

As a result of Twitter cutting down its inactive users, the social media platform has seen a decline in monthly user base from 326 million to 321 million globally.

Twitter has also seen a growth in users who use the service on mobile compared to those who use it on their desktop, which again means a lower number of fake, bot accounts.

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