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Gaming News

Introducing Kotaku Social, Our New Twitter Account

September 19, 2018 — by Kotaku.com0

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Twitter can be bad; that’s why we’ve decided to make it better, or at least a little more fun. We’re excited to launch our new Twitter account: Kotaku Social.

On Kotaku Social, there will be zero subtweeting of any kind. There will be no filtered selfies (unless I accidentally tweet from the Kotaku account, which has happened before). Instead, there will be fun, and there will be games! There will be puzzles, and the solving of those puzzles, as a community. Exciting adventures into dark dungeons, abandoned cities and wherever else our imaginations take us. You might even get to take part in some of our videos, right here on Kotaku Dot Com. (More details to come on that front.) It’s a totally new kind of Twitter account, something we haven’t tried before, so it’ll be a bit of an experiment.

It’s been a year (and some change) since I started at Kotaku. One of my favorite things about the community is its collective intense passion and enthusiasm for games. My job description involves some stressful days, but more often than not, I find myself starting each day excited to engage and banter with our readership. Inspired by that, I’m really happy (and a little anxious) to launch Kotaku Social: for, quite literally, fun and games.

Follow us on Twitter. Let’s have some fun.

Gaming News

I Did Not Buy 6,500 Pairs Of Nikes To Send To The Dump, But Thousands Of Idiots Think I Did

September 13, 2018 — by Kotaku.com0

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Illustration: Jim Cooke (GMG), Photo: Nike/Shutterstock

First off, let’s get something out of the way: I did not purchase $1.3 million dollars’ worth of Nike Air VaporMaxes (White/Varsity Purple/Metallic Silver/Aqua, size 9.5) with the intent of shipping them to the Glendale city dump.

Now, did 20,000 or so people believe that I purchased $1.3 million dollars’ worth of Nike Air VaporMaxes (White/Varsity Purple/Metallic Silver/Aqua, size 9.5) with the intent of shipping them to the Glendale city dump? Yes, and I’m here to explain why.

I am not a wealthy man. My last actual shoe purchase nearly bankrupted me. Hell, I’m still paying off my most recent visit to Whole Foods … or as I like to call it, Whole Paycheck. Go ahead and use that one if you want.

And while I may not have access to millions of dollars, by simply tweeting a single, incredibly obvious joke, I do have access to millions of atrocious replies from people named things like @Resistance_Deborah57, @Resistance_Deborah62, and @Resistance_Karen.

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Last Tuesday, I pretended to be a rich guy. More specifically, I pretended to be a rich guy protesting Nike’s decision to make Colin Kaepernick the face of their latest ad campaign by buying thousands of shoes and mailing them to a landfill. On its face, an obvious parody of the numerous MAGA dipshits burning their Monarch IVs in backyard fire-pits. Everyone knows the type: the guy in a Vineyard Vines polo recording a car vlog about how kneeling athletes have ruined the sanctity of one third of Lady Antebellum singing the national anthem at a Jacksonville Jaguars preseason game. The red-faced owner of a mall kiosk who refuses to sell phone cases with the swoosh on ’em (American flag ones are fine, though). The state senator who looks like he invented tweed and will take any opportunity to score cheap political points on the off-chance he might get a fave thrown his way by the President’s wet sons.

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If you aren’t familiar with how Twitter works, each morning, somebody posts something stupid. The rest of Twitter takes turns pummeling this person into submission. Then, we forget what we were mad about and do it all over again the next day.

Unfortunately in this case, the thing people were mad about was a joke. It wasn’t real. It never happened. The vast majority of these angry replies could have been avoided if people had simply taken five seconds to examine the context of the post, or even just demonstrated a modicum of common sense. All it would have taken was one click over to my profile, for example.

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“Hold on a second,” they’d say to themselves, “This guy plays video games online for a living, where he makes money by debasing himself by dying in PUBG as internet weirdos throw pennies at him like some freakish little pig monster… also, the email listed in the screen-grab is courage@army.com.”

But this is Twitter, and Twitter doesn’t do context clues.

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No, Twitter does “I’m so sure of myself that I’m going to double down on my opinions even when proven wrong.”

The journey from “this guy bought a million dollars worth of shoes, he’s an idiot,” to “this guy tricked me into thinking he bought a million dollars worth of shoes, he’s still an idiot,” is, quite frankly, absolutely incredible.

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Look, I get it. I really do. The dopamine rush you experience when you quote tweet some idiot conservative laying down in a dumpster and add “lol” or “lmao” is the closest you’ll ever get to understanding how your grandpa felt when he stormed the beaches of Normandy and bolt-action ratio’d a bunch of Nazis.

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But for the love of all that is holy, please, please take five seconds to determine if something is a joke before getting all self-righteous. I know how easy it is to cobble together some lazy-ass reply about “owning the libs,” but at least make sure the guy you quote-tweeted actually mailed a dozen Tofurkeys to Nancy Pelosi.

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It wasn’t all bad, though. Some of the best replies I received were from the people who came so close to getting the joke. You’ve done all the work, man. You’re almost there. Just one more step. You’ve just about got it.

The second best? The people who asked where the dump was located. So they examined the screen-grab close enough to know I was sending the shoes to a dump… but somehow didn’t see the name and address of the dump right there?

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My personal favorites, though, were the people who got into it with me directly and still didn’t realize what was happening.

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What it all comes down to is this: when you’re online, it doesn’t matter what your politics are. At some point in your mad scramble to own somebody, you’ll be fooled by a parody account, a photoshop, or some little Canadian dickhead pretending to buy 6,500 pairs of Nikes. This is the world we live in now; just a non-stop stampede of people from either side of the aisle trying to pull one over on the dumbest idiot of the other team. By all means, go ahead and do that! Just make sure they’re real. Stay vigilant, use your head, and don’t share that picture of the shark on the freeway the next time there’s a big flood.

Also, people should have to take a standardized test before being allowed to use the internet. Feel free to quote-tweet that.


Stefan Heck is a comedy writer from Vancouver, Canada. You can listen to him complain about the Canucks on Real Good Show and watch him struggle to play video games on The Go Off Kings. He has been blocked on Twitter by Rob Schneider, Dog the Bounty Hunter, and Taco Bell.

Gaming News

Sword & Sworcery's Switch Port Won't Support Twitter Because It's A 'Vat Of Toxic Waste'

August 30, 2018 — by Kotaku.com0

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Several eras ago—before algorithms came to dictate our every breath and Nazis re-infiltrated popular discourse via extremely uncreative and shitty memes—Twitter was alright. Now it’s a suckhole that eats negativity and barfs conflict. The developers of indie classic Sword & Sworcery don’t want anything to do with it anymore.

Earlier this week, developer Capy announced that its cult classic side-scrolling adventure will be coming to Switch in October. The original iOS version allowed users to instantly tweet any of the game’s dialog prompts, but the Switch version won’t include that feature. All of Sworcery’s dialog is 140 characters or less for easy tweeting, but now that Twitter upped the character limit to 280 so that conspiracy theorists could cram even more wackadoo nonsense into messages that eventually filter up to the President of the United States, things aren’t super great. Thus, the feature removal.

“Twitter support has been cut from the Sworcery Switch Edition,” said creative director Kris Piotrowski, somewhat ironically, on Twitter. “The reason for this is simple: When we first launched Sworcery many moons ago, Twitter was fun & nice & cool. Now, in the year 2018, Twitter is a vat of toxic waste and we want nothing to do with it.”

When reached for comment, Capy did not directly answer my questions about what responsible and ethical Twitter usage in the year 2018 looks like, but it did send this image:

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“Since our prior experiment in 2011, social networks have proven to be catastrophic for society, so we now encourage isolation & regretful reflection,” it reads.

Truly, a message we can all get behind.

Gaming News

A Beginner’s Guide to Mastodon

August 22, 2018 — by Kotaku.com0

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The social media network known as Mastodon is sort of an anti-Twitter: quiet, calm, and pretty much free of Nazis. People have been flocking to it lately, only to get confused by the way it’s set up—which is a shame, because it’s not that hard to get started. Here’s how.

Where do I sign up?

Whereas Twitter is a single huge corporate entity, Mastodon is more like a bunch of local mom-and-pop shops. That means you need to choose an “instance”—a server you’ll call home. Don’t panic! Stay with me here! You can handle this!

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It’s like how you can choose to keep your money at your local bank or credit union, but your money is still good everywhere. You can pay somebody, or get paid, in any of a hundred ways and it doesn’t matter what bank they use.

So even though I have a mastodon account at wandering.shop, and my fellow Lifehacker writer Nick Douglas has one at mastodon.social, I can still follow him and he can follow me. Here is a tool to browse all the available instances and figure out which one is most your style.

If you don’t know which to choose, sign up at mastodon.cloud. (Until recently, mastodon.social was the flagship instance, but it’s kind of full now.) If you like, you can poke around for a few days and then migrate to another instance once you’ve realized it would be more fun somewhere else.

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What do I do now that I’m here?

Each instance has a web-based viewer that will show tweetdeck-like columns of your home timeline (the people you follow), your notifications, and a third column that you can use for whatever you want.

Just like Twitter, you can follow people, mention them, and direct message. But your instance also has two special timelines:

  • The local timeline is a stream of everybody tweeting from that instance. So if I click there, I see everything that’s going on on wandering.shop. It’s like listening in on everybody in your neighborhood.
  • The federated timeline is everything on the local timeline, plus everybody who is followed by someone on your instance. So if I follow Nick, his toots (yep, they’re called toots) will show up in wandering.shop’s federated timeline.

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A few terms to help ease your transition from Twitter:

  • It’s not a tweet, it’s a toot.
  • It’s not a retweet, it’s a boost. There is no such thing as a quote-tweet, you just either boost or you don’t.
  • Twitter itself is referred to as “the birdsite.” Do not bring birdsite drama onto mastodon.

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Okay, I’m ready to toot!

First, this is not Twitter. Each instance has its own administrator and its own code of conduct, so make sure you read up before you toot. For example, mastodon.social has this in its code of conduct:

The following types of content will be removed from the public timeline, and may result in account suspension and revocation of access to the service:

  1. Racism or advocation of racism
  2. Sexism or advocation of sexism
  3. Discrimination against gender and sexual minorities, or advocation thereof
  4. Xenophobic and/or violent nationalism

The following types of content are explicitly disallowed and will result in revocation of access to the service:

  1. Sexual depictions of children
  2. Content illegal in Germany and/or France, such as holocaust denial or Nazi symbolism
  3. Conduct promoting the ideology of National Socialism

There is also a content warning feature, which you can turn on with the “CW” button when you compose a toot. You can use it to warn people about triggering or unsavory subjects in your toot, and then they have to click a button to expand the full toot. The code of conduct may require certain things to always be hidden in a CW, such as nudity or gore.

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But it’s used in other ways, too: it’s perfect for hiding spoilers, or for the punchline of a joke. People also often use it for things others might not be interested in. If you’re posting something that you feel might be boring or annoying to others, just stick it in a CW and it’s easy for people to scroll past. If you want to talk about birdsite drama, definitely put it in a CW.

You can adjust the privacy of each toot, by the way: public, which means it will appear on the local and federated timelines; followers-only, which means only your followers will see it; or unlisted, which is like followers-only, but it will also appear on your profile page. Unlisted makes sense if you’re not trying to keep the toot secret, but just don’t want it clogging up timelines or search results. For more on privacy, blocking, and harassment prevention, check out this post from Mastodon’s main developer.

What app do I use to get mastodon on my phone?

There’s not a single mastodon app, but several. I like Tootdon for iPhone, especially the feature that lets you search for instances, and put another instance’s local timeline right onto your home screen. So I can see what’s going on at wandering.shop, but then swipe to check out the firehose at mastodon.social or the lulz at bofa.lol.

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Tusky is another popular app, or just ask your tootfriends what they’re using. There’s also a rundown of Android apps here, and iPad apps here.

There are other web clients as well: Halcyon is a pitch-perfect mimic of the Twitter website. Pinafore.social looks a little like Twitter, but importantly it allows you to log in with multiple accounts, it’s fast, and you can use it on mobile if you haven’t picked a favorite mobile app yet.

Okay, but are all the cool kids hanging out without me?

Probably. To find them, first go to the “Find Twitter Friends” feature on joinmastodon.org, and see where all the people you already know are hanging out. (I also did a twitter search for “mastodon” and filtered the results to people I follow.)

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Don’t forget you can preview instances’ local timelines on their websites, or through an app such as Tootdon that has that feature. I joined mastodon.social at first, then spent a few days browsing a bunch of different local timelines until I settled on one that felt more like home.

When you’re ready to jump ship, it’s sort of possible to migrate your account, but it’s not seamless. Here’s what you do:

  • Go to your settings and then Data Export. There, you can download a list of everybody you follow, everybody you’ve blocked, and everybody you’ve muted.
  • Sign up for an account on the new instance.
  • On the new instance, go to your settings and then Import. You can upload those lists.
  • Go back to your old account and edit your profile. At the bottom is a link to migrate your account. This just lets people know your account isn’t working there anymore. You may also want to edit your bio and change your name to something like “Beth has migrated” for anyone who might stumble across your account not realizing you’re gone.

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Migrating does not retain your followers. Anybody who follows you will be left following your old dead account. Fortunately, they’ll all get a notification when you follow them again from the new account, and chances are they’ll follow back. (A lot of people on Mastodon follow everyone back, anyway.)


Why go to all this trouble? Well, the vibe on Mastodon—for now, anyway—is similar to old-school Twitter or even (hello olds) Livejournal or IRC. People get to know each other, and are more likely to post about their genuine real-life interests than to share news stories or endlessly discuss politics. (That said, I’m sure there are instances dedicated to activism and politics. If that’s your thing, go forth and sign up!) It just feels like a nice, friendly place to be.

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Gaming News

Cyberpunk 2077 Tweets Transphobic Joke, Studio Apologizes 'To All Those Offended'

August 21, 2018 — by Kotaku.com0

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The official Cyberpunk 2077 Twitter account courted controversy today after a tweet that some considered transphobic. This is not the first time that a CD Projekt Red-affiliated Twitter account has needed to apologize for a tweet.

Responding to a fan on Twitter earlier today, the official Cyberpunk 2077 Twitter account referenced an internet meme mocking transgender people.

“Did you just assume their gender,” the tweet said. The account was responding to a fan saying that they wanted more from the “guys” at Gamescom. CD Projekt Red is currently showing Cyberpunk 2077 at the event.

While the tweet is not explicitly transphobic, the meme being referenced is largely used to belittle or demean the concerns of transgender people. Much like saying how you’ve decided to identify as an attack helicopter is a way to mock transgender folks, this phrase is meant to mock the supposedly fragile egos of “tumblrinas” and social justice warriors. It’s not clear whether or not the employee responsible intended it as offensive. The tweet was later deleted and an apology issued.

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“Sorry to all those offended by one of the responses sent out from our account earlier,” a tweet on the official Cyberpunk 2077 Twitter account said. “Harming anyone was never our intention.”

CD Projekt Red did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

By itself, this is just a PR faux-pas, but this is not the first time a CD Projekt Red-related Twitter account has posted questionable content. Last July, the official Twitter account for GOG, the game storefront owned by CDPR, tweeted an animated GIF from Postal 2: Paradise Lost depicting the main character urinating on a tombstone marked Games Journalism. The date on the tombstone, August 28th, 2014, was a reference to GamerGate. The tweet was later deleted.

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At the time, I asked GOG’s Head of Global Communications Łukasz Kukawski about their vetting process for social media managers.

“There is no process per se,” Kukawski said via email. “We’re working closely in the team, and usually if there are any doubts regarding communication we simply talk about it. Unfortunately, sometimes things slip unnoticed, like in this case. Mistakes happen, we’ll just make sure they don’t repeat.”

Gaming News

SAY IT AIN'T SO: Weezer's Primary Victory Could Spell Midterms Doom For Dems

August 8, 2018 — by Kotaku.com0

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Image: Getty

On Tuesday, voters cast their ballots on a number of pressing issues and some extremely-good-to-absolutely-evil candidates. But there was one particular issue on the ballot that could help shape the future of the Democratic party, the age old question: Is Weezer good?

It’s a topic that’s been divisive for so-called “liberal elites” for years. We can now report, with 100% of precincts reporting and zero minutes left in the Twitter poll, 57% of voters said yes, the alt-rock band best known for its eponymous 1994 debut album is, in fact, still good—a clear win, no doubt, but one that raises serious questions heading into the general election.

While the turnout was a bit anemic—a major challenge for the Democrats as they head into November—the results left us with a few important takeaways:

  • Even those who voted “yes” seemed to do so with a healthy amount of caveats.

Many left notes right there on the ballot:

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Another takeaway:

  • What might’ve been a guaranteed victory in 2004 or 2008 isn’t necessarily one today.

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It’s safe to say that in years past, Weezer would’ve pulled out an even bigger victory, but all bets are off on the 2018 playing field. Voters are asking themselves a lot of tough questions: Have they even had any good releases since Pinkerton? Is Rivers Cuomo kinda problematic? And perhaps the most damning indictment in the internet era:

And finally:

  • The Democratic party is in crisis.

Much has been made of the supposed “blue wave” this year, and while the primary results indicate that Dems could score some major midterm victories, the party itself is undoubtedly at a crossroads. The party establishment is being challenged by progressive candidates across the country, and it’s still unclear whether voters will fall on one side or the other—or perhaps be torn apart. Many voters, who asked not to be named, said they felt emboldened by strong sentiment from the other side (in both directions), suggesting a reactionary force could be at play that will take shape in the months ahead.

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One thing’s is for sure: You can ride the ~wave~ of goodwill from the Blue Album for awhile, but eventually, that hash pipe is going to get cashed.

Tech News

Twitter is auditing itself for toxicity

July 30, 2018 — by Engadget.com0

Bloomberg

Whether it’s the veil of anonymity, the controversial nature of political discourse, or both — conversations on social media can quickly turn into emotionally charged quarrels. To combat these ongoing issues, Twitter has cracked down on fake accounts, added extra verification steps for new users, and acquired Smyte — a software company that’s dedicated to preventing spam and abuse. Now the social networking site is turning to university experts to promote healthier dialog.

Leiden University’s Dr. Rebekah Tromble will head a team of researchers to investigate the formation of echo chambers and underlying causes of uncivil discourse. The joint project will look to measure how communities take shape around political discussions, and observe any problems that manifest. To do this, the researchers will gauge how frequently Twitter users engage with diverse viewpoints, and develop algorithms that determine whether a conversation is ‘uncivil’ — one that breaks politeness norms — or ‘intolerant’, responses that fall more in line with hate speech, racism, or xenophobia:

“In the context of growing political polarization, the spread of misinformation, and increases in incivility and intolerance, it is clear that if we are going to effectively evaluate and address some of the most difficult challenges arising on social media, academic researchers and tech companies will need to work together much more closely,” Dr. Tromble said.

In the past, Leiden studies have indicated that the similarity of opinions in echo chambers tends to foster hostility and resentment towards people with opposing perspectives.

Oxford University researchers are also joining Twitter’s initiative to cultivate a healthier, less discriminatory online space. Social psychology professor Miles Hewstone says communicating with individuals from different backgrounds is a proven method for reducing prejudice, and his team is interested in determining whether the positivity of an interaction online is transferred when a user logs off.

In an age where the boundaries between online and real-world identities have become increasingly blurred, and words can be used as weapons, such initiatives may prove useful for Twitter. After all, the rush of happiness we experience after a pleasant online conversation with a stranger is very much real.

Tech News

Twitter's tougher stance on users is hurting its growth

July 27, 2018 — by Engadget.com0

The number of people actively using Twitter fell in the second quarter of 2018, the company confirmed today. Monthly active users slipped to 335 million in the three-month period, down from 334 million. Curiously, the one million drop-off came from America, rather than any of the company’s international markets. For Twitter, that’s a serious concern, though not an unexpected one. The company has been under pressure to tackle bots and extremist accounts that are breaking community guidelines. Chief executive Jack Dorsey has promised to do better, with moderators reportedly suspending over 70 million accounts over the last two months.

Twitter seems to be cleaning up its platform, albeit slowly. That tough, but necessary work should improve the service for everyone, earning goodwill from longtime users and creating a healthier business in the process. The short-term drop in active accounts, though, won’t be appreciated by many investors. Following the release of its second quarter earnings, Twitter shares plunged more than 15 percent in premarket trading. Not good.

For Dorsey and his team, it’s a tricky balancing act. If the company can eradicate toxic accounts, it should encourage users to stay on the platform and log in more frequently. That ray of hope shines through in the company’s steady growth in daily active users — Twitter doesn’t disclose the actual figure, but confirmed that it’s risen by 11 percent year-over-year. That’s a fraction higher than last quarter and roughly in line with every quarter in 2017. The company will, undoubtedly, like that growth to be higher, but it’s a positive number in an otherwise lackluster report.

Twitter might be losing users, but it’s making money. The company made $711 million in revenue during the quarter, up from $665 million before. That led to $100 million in profit — a huge jump from the $61 million reported in its last financial earnings. It’s the third consecutive quarter that Twitter has turned a profit, and its third ever, meaning the company has finally found a seemingly stable business model. “We’re maintaining profitability while we make investments in the business,” Ned Segal, Twitter’s CFO said, “achieving strong revenue growth and introducing product updates that make Twitter both healthier and easier to use.”

In a press release, Dorsey confirmed that the drop in monthly active users was a direct consequence of the company’s clean-up operation. “Our second quarter results reflect the work we’re doing to ensure more people get value from Twitter every day,” he said. “We want people to feel safe freely expressing themselves and have launched new tools to address problem behaviors that distort and distract from the public conversation.”

This is a developing story. More to follow…

Tech News

Twitter again says it doesn't 'shadow ban'

July 26, 2018 — by Engadget.com0

Mehrad Ansari of Iran holds a sign outside of the U.S. Supreme Court after U.S. President Trump’s travel ban was upheld in Washington, U.S., June 26, 2018. Leah Millis / Reuters

Over the last day or so, an article alleged that Twitter was showing bias against conservative political figures by failing to auto-populate their names in the search box. Once the president’s account tweeted about it this morning, it officially became a thing, and the company repeatedly tried to explain how multiple factors affected a number of accounts showing up in search, not just those on one particular political side.

We’ve gone in-depth on the issue already, but if you need more information from the source, there’s a new blog post from Twitter explaining more about what goes into its search feature and why a certain account might not appear right away. Once again, product lead Kayvon Beykpour and Legal, Policy and Trust & Safety Lead Vijaya Gadde put their names out there proclaiming that Twitter does not “shadow ban,” and said that hundreds of thousands of accounts from around the world were affected by the search auto-suggest issue. We’ll see if that’s enough to put things to rest.

How many people were impacted by the search auto-suggest issue?

Hundreds of thousands of accounts were impacted by this issue. This impact was not limited to a certain political affiliation or geography. And, to be clear, these accounts were only impacted within search auto-suggestions– they still appeared in search results. This issue has now been resolved.

It looks like this only affected Republican politicians. Were Democratic politicians also impacted?

Yes, some Democratic politicians were not properly showing up within search auto-suggestions as result of this issue. As mentioned above, the issue was broad-ranging and not limited to political accounts or specific geographies. And most accounts affected had nothing to do with politics at all.

OK, so there was a search auto-suggest issue. But what caused these Republican representatives to be impacted?

For the most part, we believe the issue had more to do with how other people were interacting with these representatives’ accounts than the accounts themselves (see bullet #3 above). There are communities that try to boost each other’s presence on the platform through coordinated engagement. We believe these types of actors engaged with the representatives’ accounts– the impact of this coordinated behavior, in combination with our implementation of search auto-suggestions, caused the representatives’ accounts to not show up in auto-suggestions. In addition to fixing search yesterday, we’re continuing to improve our system so it can better detect these situations and correct for them.

Twitter exists to serve the public conversation, enabling important discussions around the world to occur. Favoring one specific ideology or belief goes against everything we stand for. https://t.co/lioupj3aUF

— Vijaya Gadde (@vijaya) July 27, 2018