This post first appeared at Fellowship of the Minds
Shadow banning (also called stealth or ghost banning) is the act of blocking or partially blocking a user or their content from an online community such that it will not be readily apparent to the user that they have been banned. As such, shadow banning is a form of sneaky censorship.
Whatfinger News is a relatively-new but rapidly-rising link-news site like Drudge Report, only better. As it describes itself:
Whatfinger News was founded by military people and 100% unapologetic for being patriotic. That doesn’t mean we don’t show opposing views, sites and papers. We do and label them on the homepage in sections as right wing or left wing, unlike other sites that might trick you into clicking into sites that you would never want to visit. Not us!
FOTM‘s readers have seen our promotion of Whatfinger at the bottom of our posts. Even before we started doing that, Whatfinger had posted links to our posts, which was how I discovered Whatfinger. Each day, we get hundreds and often thousands of referrals from Whatfinger, for which FOTM is most grateful.
Beginning yesterday, I noticed something odd: There were no referrals from Whatfinger! Here’s a screenshot I took of yesterday’s referrals:
So I went on Whatfinger to find out what had happened.
I saw that Whatfinger did post links to our posts, but also this statement:
Many sites have now sent screenshots, sites that we send thousands of people to daily who are all noticing WordPress ‘shadowbanning of stats’ – we all now need to know the truth. Are all conservative sites targets? Will they blame some ‘algorithm as Facebook likes to do? Can’t be just Whatfinger, since we are new and no where near the size of other sites just yet.
So I went to FOTM‘s stats page, only to discover that WordPress had changed the referrals of the day before, Oct. 11, to remove all referrals from Whatfinger! The problem is, a day before, I had seen thousands of referrals from Whatfiinger, which now had vanished, retroactively expunged by WordPress.
I then clicked on the referrals for September 29, 2018 — a day when FOTM had a record 35,438 unique views. I remember seeing there were thousands of referrals from Whatfinger that day, which WordPress now has retroactivelyexpunged:
What WordPress is doing is dishonest, deceptive, and plain evil. By shadow-banning referrals from Whatfinger, WordPress’ intention is to damage Whatfinger by alienating FOTM from Whatfinger.
Well, WordPress, we are on to you and your evil doings. FOTM will continue to promote Whatfinger News. Despite your evil machinations, Whatfinger Newswill continue to thrive and hopefully overtake sold-out Drudge Report some day.