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Scott Adams claims:

You might have clicked on my misleading tweet to get to this page. I had to disguise the content so Twitter wouldn’t throttle it.

Here’s why…

This morning I tweeted a link to a great video that describes in detail how Twitter “throttles” the tweets of any content that disagrees with their political views. The video describes how Twitter gives a fake message that some tweets are no longer available, to discourage you from clicking to them. The tweets still exist, and you can access them by directly clicking the links in the tweets, but most people would not think to do that.

Scott Adams discusses a NSFW1 video which accused Twitter of this behaviour.

The question is: Is Twitter throttling tweets of its users, as Scott Adams claims?

1 - contains foul language.

  • 4
    This is a legitimate question, but it's probably not answerable at this time because Twitter's algorithm is a trade secret. – Avery Feb 6 '17 at 1:20
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    @Ilya: Foul language, homophobia, borderline sexism, ad hominem attacks, etc. – Oddthinking Feb 6 '17 at 2:38
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    @user5341: Pure speculation: A post by a popular user, including Scott Adams, is going to be read by zillions of people. Rather than store it on a single server unable to keep up with the load, Twitter are going to duplicate it to caches around the world. The caching algorithm itself is going to get snowed under sometimes. So, sometimes when a user retweets a tweet, a message appears "Tweet is unavailable". Clicking on the tweet brings it up. I have seen this behaviour, and I am not a mover-and-shaker on Twitter, which was the video's claim. My point: Hanlon's Razor should be applied. – Oddthinking Feb 6 '17 at 6:00
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    Considering how many Nazi and other abusive accounts go unmoderated on Twitter, this is almost certainly a glitch. – The Forest And The Trees Feb 6 '17 at 11:46
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    Can we get a more formal definition of what "throttling" means in this context? Because as a programmer to me it means "Slowing down request processing in order to cope with a backlog or to keep a service as a whole up and running even if some individual requests don't get serviced promptly". By that definition, Twitter does and has throttled for years because they rate-limit the number of HTTP requests you can make – GordonM Feb 6 '17 at 14:05
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Yes, Twitter confirmed it was doing it. This was posted from the Twitter account of the man who made the video and the response he got.

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    Please could you provide a) a link to the official Twitter source where this was confirmed (this appears to be a public statement, not a private reply); b) the relevant section quoted as text; and c) an explanation of how it relates to the original claim. Neither "excluding from search results" nor "collapsing ... replies" sounds the same as "a fake message that some tweets are no longer available" to me. – IMSoP Feb 8 '17 at 17:27
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    This is a site dedicated to examining claims. Saying that something "speaks for itself", and not bothering to do a quick search for the source of your own quote, is frankly lazy. I haven't watched the video giving details of the claim, so I can only compare to the text quoted in the question, which doesn't mention searches or reply threads. – IMSoP Feb 8 '17 at 17:39
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    @kdog It sounds suspicious, but it's hardly damning. And as already said by IMSoP, this says nothing to describe the specific behavior that the video has dubbed as "throttling". – fredsbend Feb 8 '17 at 17:52
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    Just to be clear, here is the announcement you have posted a partial screenshot of. Just below the part here is a nice little animation explaining what "collapsing" means (they're moved to a separate header in the UI). And the link to "in our help center" points to the page about Search which includes how to disable the filtering. So, please can you edit to clarify if the behaviour claimed by Scott Adams is explained by a) the optional Safe Search; or b) the not-yet-rolled-out reply UI change. – IMSoP Feb 8 '17 at 18:01
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    I've now watched the video, and although it's cleverly littered with "maybe"s to make it impossible to argue with, one thing is very clear: the claim is that some of your own followers won't see your tweets. Since followers would be neither searching nor viewing replies, we can be 100% clear that this announcement doesn't confirm the claim. – IMSoP Feb 9 '17 at 13:30

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