Posted on August 18, 2023

AfD Accuses Twitter of Election Interference

Michael Curzon, European Conservative, August 17, 2023

Elon Musk’s pledge to make Twitter (or “X”) a free-speech-friendly “digital town square” has been brought into question following reports that the social media account of a leading AfD politician and MEP has been shadowbanned.

Twitter users hoping to find Maximilian Krah’s profile will struggle when using the site’s search functions. This appears to be the result of a “search suggestion ban.” One popular shadowban search engine explains that this type of ban

causes an account to not populate search suggestions and people [sic] search results when it is searched for while being logged out. Twitter seems to take tie strength or a similar metric into account. While an account may be suggested to users you are strongly tied to, it may not be shown to others.

The ban appears to be in place despite Dr. Krah’s account facing no formal restrictions.

With national polls around the corner, the AfD official accused Twitter of “intervening in the German election campaign against its own guidelines.” The platform did not respond to Dr. Krah’s insistence that this ban “must end,” though the politician also claims to have reached out to Twitter.

This story is likely to be familiar for readers of The European Conservative, which is also subject to such restrictions. The same shadowban search engine suggests that the publication’s Twitter account has been hit not only with a “search suggestion ban,” like that of Dr. Krah’s, but also with a “search ban,” meaning posts can be

hidden from the search results entirely, no matter whether the quality filter is turned on or off. This behaviour includes hashtags as well. This type of ban seems to be temporally [sic] limited for active accounts.

The European Conservative has reached out to Twitter and Mr. Musk on a number of occasions but has yet to receive a response beyond a likely-automated customer satisfaction survey.

Until the issue is resolved, Twitter users who do not follow the publication’s account will be unable, as they have for around two months, to find its posts on the site and will fail to find them using the standard search functions.