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Messages among Twitter employees appear to confirmed the social media giant can “shadow ban” accounts, according to copies of the messages leaked by a source to investigative non-profit Project Veritas.

Shadow banning – also known as “stealth banning” or “ghost banning” – is the alleged practice by a platform of blocking or partially blocking users and/or their content from some part of an online community in way that they will not clearly know but will see a drop off in comments, retweet, “likes” and other user engagement in connection with posts. 

The Slack conversation began in the “#social-watercooler” group message when an employee asked, “can we actually shadow ban people,” Project Veritas says.

The names and faces of employees were obscured by Veritas for privacy.

One employee responded with a link to the wikiHow article “How to Check if You Are Shadowbanned on Twitter.” The article explains that shadow banning is when accounts have “dramatic decreases in engagement” if “Twitter down ranks, hides, or block your content from search.”

“LMAO, but we don’t actually do this, right?” another employee asked.

Another employee responded in the Slack chat by saying, “short answer – yes, we can reduce visibility on surfaces.”

One staffer commented, “it depends what your definition of ‘shadowban’ is.”

Project Veritas published the leaked conversation on April 27, two days after billionaire entrepreneur Elon Musk secured a deal to purchase Twitter. 

The social media platform has been accused of shadow banning conservative accounts.

Project Veritas confirmed Twitter’s efforts to shadow ban accounts in a 2018 investigation.

Shortly before buying Twitter, Musk made a joke about shadow banning on the platform.

“Shadow ban council reviewing tweet,” he wrote, along with a photo of dark hooded figures in response to his tweet making fun of Bill Gates’ weight.

Musk has promised free speech on the platform under his leadership.