Vaping News

Shadow Banned

Liking or sharing a factual message criticising an erroneous figure has led to a large number of vape advocates being shadow banned on a social media platform

Share on:
Brad Rodu, a Professor of Medicine and Endowed Chair of Tobacco Harm Reduction Research at the University of Louisville, responded to an erroneous statement on the Twitter platform. The error was made by Quit Tobacco/UCanQuit2, a U.S. Department of Defence program. Everybody liking or Retweeting Rodu’s response has been shadow banned or had their accounts locked. Is there something nefarious going on?

UCanQuit2 is an educational campaign for the U.S. military, giving service people “the opportunity to learn more about tobacco cessation, develop a plan for quitting, and get help around the clock.”

On February 11, its Twitter account posted: “Smokeless tobacco users are 50x more likely to get cheek, gum & mouth cancer vs. nonusers.”

Rodu responded: “Your 50 claim is a complete fabrication by a staffer @theNCI. Here is the explanation: . Furthermore, a large federally-funded study documented that men who dip/chew had ZERO excess risk for mouth cancer. ZERO.

Rodu points out that the Department of Defence “made the same bogus claim two years ago (here).”

Then something very odd happened, everybody liking or retweeting Rodu’s post found their accounts locked or were placed on a shadow ban.

What is a shadow ban? Twitter defines it: “Deliberately making someone’s content undiscoverable to everyone except the person who posted it, unbeknownst to the original poster.” Twitter claim that it doesn’t shadow ban users.

Using an online tool, it was clearly apparent that accounts had been suspended or restricted. Rodu wrote: “After my Tweet was liked by 24 people and retweeted by 13, a strange chain of events occurred. The Twitter accounts of many of the above were suspended. The affected individuals pleaded with @TwitterSupport to make amends.”

POTV created a sample account and liked Rodu’s original tweet. Then we clicked on “Retweet” – the account was immediately locked.

Some have been generous enough to blame what is happening on a glitch, others wonder if something more underhand is going on and criticism of a U.S. military educational campaign is being censored.

Five days on and Twitter Support has failed to respond to the many calls for assistance or explanation, although a couple of accounts have returned to normal. The action has interfered with vape advocates being able to share information – something we can’t see as being an issue for the Department of Defence, the Food and Drug Administration or the Surgeon General.



Dave Cross avatar

Dave Cross

Journalist at POTV
View Articles

Dave is a freelance writer; with articles on music, motorbikes, football, pop-science, vaping and tobacco harm reduction in Sounds, Melody Maker, UBG, AWoL, Bike, When Saturday Comes, Vape News Magazine, and syndicated across the Johnston Press group. He was published in an anthology of “Greatest Football Writing”, but still believes this was a mistake. Dave contributes sketches to comedy shows and used to co-host a radio sketch show. He’s worked with numerous vape companies to develop content for their websites.

Join the discussion

Vaping News

Harm Reduction For The Rich

The United Kingdom risks becoming a harm reduction country only for the wealthy, according to Michael Landl of the World Vapers’ Alliance

Vaping News

CAPHRA Highlights Tobacco Control Flaws

The Coalition of Asia Pacific Tobacco Harm Reduction Advocates highlights the flaws in tobacco control which has led to the rise of black market in Australia

Vaping News

A Missed Opportunity at COP10

The Smoke Free Sweden movement says that COP10 was a missed opportunity to save millions of lives

Vaping News

COP10: Promote Tobacco Harm Reduction

Experts with Smoke Free Sweden are emphasising the urgent need for a Tobacco Harm Reduction approach at COP10