Twitter is reportedly demoting controversial accounts in search results.
The demotion appears to be part of new search ranking behaviour. According to a report by Gizmodo, certain accounts no longer appear when searched for.
Two of the accounts, which belong to Unite the Right organizer Jason Kessler and white nationalist Richard Spencer, supposedly don’t show up when searching either their display names or ‘@’ handles.
This occurs when using the drop down search menu on desktop as well as search on the mobile app. However, clicking ‘Search all’ on desktop or sorting by ‘People’ on mobile still generate the regular results.
Twitter may hope to make it harder for these accounts to grow their following.
Fundamentally, we need to focus more on the conversational dynamics within Twitter. We haven’t paid enough consistent attention here. Better organization, more context, helping to identify credibility, ease of use.
Challenging work and would love to hear your thoughts and ideas.
— jack (@jack) July 21, 2018
Additionally, the move may come as a response to calls to remove bad-faith actors, dangerous conspiracists and outright white supremacists. Many of those calls came as a response to a tweet from CEO Jack Dorsey.
Not everyone gets demoted
Despite this, not all inflammatory accounts are demoted in search. Infowars, a conspiracy website that has attacked mass shooting victims, is not reduced in search. Furthermore, Twitter isn’t reducing Infowars founder Alex Jones either.
One downside to demoting accounts in search is that fake accounts show up to take their place. According to Gizmodo, Laura Loomer searching for , an alt-right operative for Project Veritas, provides you with @LauraLooomer. The account is a knockoff with an identical bio.
Twitter is working to improve its platform in other ways as well. Recently the service removed locked accounts from follower counts in a move to increase credibility.
However, like the removal of locked accounts, deranking certain accounts will likely result in outrage from members of the community.