Pop culture satirical news account Price of Reason (@priceoreason) has documented how Twitter has shadowbanned one of his viral tweet which makes fun of HBO Max’s controversial decision to stop Bugs Bunny’s hunter adversary Elmer Fudd using a gun in its Looney Tunes remake.
The satirical tweet states:
“BREAKING NEWS: HBO Max has decided that Elmer Fudd will no longer be using a gun to try and kill Bugs Bunny. Instead, he will be reading him Alyssa Milano’s Tweets, hoping it has a similar effect.”
BREAKING NEWS: HBO Max has decided that Elmer Fudd will no longer be using a gun to try and kill Bugs Bunny. Instead, he will be reading him Alyssa Milano's Tweets, hoping it has a similar effect. pic.twitter.com/wCjM3u8LQk
— Price of Reason (@priceoreason) June 7, 2020
“The Tweet caught on like wildfire,” Price of Reason told Reclaim The Net. “Within 4 hours, I had over 2000 likes and 174,000 impressions. Elmer Fudd was trending and when you clicked on the hashtag, out of 14,000 tweets, I was the first one that appeared at the top spot of ‘Top Tweets’.”
However, after these first four hours, the account owner noticed a vast slowdown in engagement: “Just as it was exploding there was suddenly a drastic slowdown in engagement. I went to the website where you check if you’ve been shadowbanned and sure enough I was.”
The results from this Twitter Shadowban Test site showed that the Price of Reason account and its tweets were being hidden from Twitter Search Suggestions and Search results.
After performing various searches for the Price of Reason account and this Elmer Fudd tweet, the account owner confirmed that both the account and this Elmer Fudd tweet were being suppressed in Twitter search: “If you search for Elmer Fudd and my handle, you only find a few responses to my OP [original post]. No retweets with comments, no tweet, no nothing. It’s as if neither it or I ever existed.”
The owner of the Price of Reason account said that after realizing the account and this tweet were being hidden in Twitter search, the impressions and engagement dropped significantly during the next four hours with total tweet impressions reaching 184,412 (a 94% decline in growth) and total tweet engagements reaching 10,094 (a 93% decline in growth).
Now more than a day after it was originally posted, this Elmer Fudd tweet is sitting at around 2,500 likes with 80% of those likes being gained in the first four hours.
Twitter officially made the controversial practice of shadowbanning (banning or suppressing a user or their content in a way that’s difficult for users of the platform to detect) part of its terms of service on January 1, 2020.
However, a January 2018 undercover video from investigative reporting outlet Project Veritas showed a former Twitter software engineer discussing this practice almost two years before it was officially listed in the terms of service.
In this video, the former Twitter software engineer stated:
“One strategy is to shadowban so that you have ultimate control. The idea of a shadowban is that you ban someone but they don’t know they’ve been banned because they keep posting but no one sees their content.”
Project Veritas subsequently had its Twitter ads account banned in November 2019 over this video exposing Twitter’s shadowbanning practices.