A scandal broke out earlier this week over the popular microblogging company’s de facto censorship of Republican politicians, whose names often wouldn’t appear in Twitter’s search function. President Trump vowed to “look into” what he dubbed a “discriminatory and illegal practice.”
“Yesterday, we identified an issue where some accounts weren’t auto-suggested in search even when people were searching for their specific name,” Twitter said in a blog post. “To be clear, this only impacted our search auto-suggestions. The accounts, their tweets and surrounding conversation about those accounts were showing up in search results. As of yesterday afternoon, this issue was resolved,” the company noted.
Twitter also said that that the glitch affected “hundreds of thousands of accounts,” and some Democratic politicians as well. It did admit that more Republicans may have been affected. “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,” the company claimed.
Twitter’s blog post emphasized that the company does “not shadow ban,” suggesting that earlier media reports and the president had mischaracterized the auto-search bug.
Trump tweeted about the issue on Thursday. Republican Congressman Matt Gaetz said he was contemplating filing a complaint with the Federal Election Commission, arguing that the auto-search bug effectively meant that Twitter had “illegally donated to the campaigns of [his] opponents by prejudicing against [his] content.”
Twitter has not clarified whether the auto-search problem was a glitch in the true sense of the word or a new feature that did not operate as expected.