Over the last couple of weeks Nigerians have been protesting to save their lives.
Though they have been taking to the streets to protest, a lot of the protesting has also been online.
Platforms such as Twitter was key in firing up the protest and getting the word out.
The hashtag #EndSARS and #EndSARSimmediately were the hashtags that were used to kick start the protest.
It quickly started trending in Nigeria, Ghana and worldwide after a couple of days.
However, in the last few days, Nigerian Twitter users have been complaining about the hashtags being banned.
Tweets using those hashtags are not visible in Twitter searches.
This led to many claiming there is shadow banning of hashtags, Twitter profiles and tweets.
However, the answer lies in Twitter’s updated platform manipulation and spam policy.
The update, which was published last month, says you may not use Twitter’s services in a manner intended to artificially amplify or suppress information or engage in behavior that manipulates or disrupts people’s experience on Twitter.
One of the things Twitter’s AI picks up is the use of hashtags.
- Tweets are flagged if they are perceived to be using trending or popular hashtags with an intent to subvert or manipulate a conversation or to drive traffic or attention to accounts, websites, products, services, or initiatives. Also if accounts tweets with excessive, unrelated hashtags in a single Tweet or across multiple Tweets.
- In addition, Twitter penalizes when you send bulk, aggressive, high-volume unsolicited replies, mentions, and postings.
This action was very evident as most of the protestors almost spammed tweets just to get the word out about the End SARS protest.
The hashtags for the protests were visible in replies of posts that were not about the protest.
Some of the tweets also used the aggressive words that were flagged by Twitter.
Yes, some End SARS tweets were hidden and protestors have had to change the hashtag every now and then but it’s not due to any intentional approach by Twitter to deliberately silence the End SARS protests.
This is rather a good example of machines doing what they have been programmed to do without the emotional intelligence to know when not to apply the rules.
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