Right-wing investigative group Project Veritas has released a video alleging that the social media platform Twitter censors conservative users and would be willing to forward messages by U.S. President Donald Trump to the Department of Justice. Twitter representatives have countered that the footage is intentionally misleading (video below).
On Jan. 11, Project Veritas uploaded edited footage its members had taken with a hidden camera while interviewing Twitter employees. James O’Keefe, the group’s founder, wore a wig and sunglasses in one video to conceal his identity.
O’Keefe asserted that the footage indicated that Twitter would be willing to provide Trump’s private information to help the federal investigation into the president’s alleged ties to Russia.
In the video, Twitter Senior Network Security Engineer Clay Haynes told Project Veritas that the platform, if requested, would provide the DOJ “every single tweet that [Trump] has posted, even the ones he’s deleted. Any direct messages, and mentions.”
When O’Keefe suggested that Twitter should examine Trump and his family’s direct messages, Haynes shook his head and explained that the platform would only access the accounts if they had been subpoenaed by law enforcement. He added that he did not know if Twitter was working with the DOJ on any investigation.
A Twitter spokesperson responded to Project Veritas’ claims that it was unethically accessing user information, reiterating what Haynes had already explained to O’Keefe.
“The individual depicted in this video was speaking in a personal capacity and does not represent or speak for Twitter,” the spokesperson told the International Business Times. “Twitter only responds to valid legal requests, and does not share any user information with law enforcement without such a request.”
“We deplore the deceptive and underhanded tactics by which this footage was obtained and selectively edited to fit a pre-determined narrative,” the spokesperson added.
Project Veritas also alleged that Twitter silenced conservative users via a tactic known as “shadow banning.”
“They just think that no one is engaging with their content, when in reality, no one is seeing it,” former Twitter software engineer Abhinav Vadrevu told the group, according to The Daily Wire.
“I would say majority of [shadow bans] are for Republicans,” said Twitter Direct Messaging Engineer Parnay Singh, who did not specify whether he meant platform engineers were actively seeking to shadow ban conservatives or if he was personally observing that Republicans were more likely to post messages Twitter deemed abusive.
“Twitter does not shadowban accounts,” a Twitter spokesperson told Fox News. “We do take actions to downrank accounts that are abusive, and mark them accordingly so people can still to click through and see these Tweets if they so choose.”
Project Veritas has previously been accused of editing and doctoring its footage to misrepresent quotes by the people the group interviews.
In November 2017, Project Veritas was caught attempting a sting operation to discredit The Washington Post’s reporting on allegations of sexual misconduct against former GOP Senate candidate Roy Moore of Alabama.
An employee of the group had falsely told Post reporters that Moore had a sexual relationship with her when she was underage. Her story was fact-checked and found to be false, The Washington Post reported.
Sources: The Daily Wire, Fox News, International Business Times, The Washington Post / Featured Image: Kevin Krejci/Flickr / Embedded Images: Gage Skidmore/Flickr, Yoshimasa Niwa/Flickr via Wikimedia Commons