Twitter's Ghost Deleting - Spam Filter Mishap or Censorship?

ManageFlitter Blog
Nearly every time Twitter introduce any new feature, policy or even discuss future plans, the same steps are danced - something isn't right, users express dissatisfaction, company backtracks, media start talking about their stock valuation. We haven't quite hit the 4th step yet this time around, but 1 through 3 are most certainly accounted for.

Since making good on their vow to once again crack down on inappropriate behaviour on the platform, Twitter have been introducing a host of new features, and some of them have already started to backfire. Now though, they are being accused of utilising a feature which they never even announced.

It's being referred to as 'ghost-deleting', wherein tweets are visible to the people who posted them, but nobody else, follower or otherwise. This is a similar, albeit more extreme rendition of the 'time-out' function they've put into to place to muzzle abusive users, only with that the users in question can still tweet to their followers.

Users have been claiming that their tweets have been made completely invisible to everyone except them in this way, but Twitter have said that such occurrences are the result of the tweets being mistakenly marked as spam. One of the first users to notice the ghost deleted had posted something featuring the #NotTheEnemy hashtag, which is frequently used to berate 'social justice warriors'.

It was this that led some to suspect that the tweets being ghost deleted were deemed offensive, and indeed when the same user posted the meme image without the hashtag, it didn't get deleted. When one of his contemporaries then posted it again with the hashtag, it once again disappeared. In both cases, the users weren't ever given any sort of notification about this.

That seems pretty clear cut, but another user has since reported the same thing, only with a tweet that wasn't offensive in any way, shape or form. So what the hell is going on? Are Twitter quietly ghost deleted tweets and accidentally hit an innocent one? Is the spam filter going crazy and the whole thing is just massive coincidence? Well, Twitter have made their case, but it certainly seems like there's more to this than they're letting on.

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