Twitter has been doing everything in its power to maintain its standing as an unbiased platform.
Last week, the social media company reinstated the account of conspiracy theorist Alex Jones and his media company InfoWars after a brief seven-day suspension for inciting violence on the platform. The week prior, CEO Jack Dorsey went on a media tour to reiterate that Twitter was not deliberately making conservative accounts undiscoverable, a practice known as “shadow banning.” So it came as a surprise today when news broke that Twitter has been testing a feature that suggests accounts users might want to unfollow.
Some rejoiced at the news, thanking Twitter for making it easier to clean up their timelines.
Others questioned whether the new feature actively reminded users of the platform’s shortcomings.
Regardless, it seems like a strange time to introduce a new feature that might call to question the biases inherent in Twitter’s algorithms. Suggesting users to unfollow may add fuel to the conservative criticism that Twitter plays a role in promoting or demoting certain voices.
“We know that people want a relevant Twitter timeline. One way to do this is by unfollowing people they don’t engage with regularly. We ran an incredibly limited test to surface accounts that people were not engaging with to check if they’d like to unfollow them,” Twitter told Quartz in a statement.
Dorsey will testify alongside Facebook chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg before the US House Energy and Commerce committee about how the platforms monitor content on Sept. 5.