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What is Shadow Banning and Why is Being Twitter Accused of Doing It

What is Shadow Banning and Why is Being Twitter Accused of Doing It?

President Trump sent out a tweet at the end of July that read — “Twitter ‘SHADOW BANNING’ prominent Republicans. Not good. We will look into this discriminatory and illegal practice at once! Many complaints.” In light of allegations that Twitter has shadow banned certain individuals, PeerSource interviewed 30-year veteran of Information Technology — Ajay Menendez — who is an expert in cybersecurity. Menendez broke down what shadow banning is, how easily it can be done and the ethical dilemmas faced by those in the tech world.

“Shadow banning is the concept where websites, forums and apps either delist, hide or make it so that an account's content cannot be found,” he explained.

“It might be just difficult to find, require hyper-specific hashtags or search keywords, or make content simply invisible. It does, however, appear to the content creator that the work has been posted,” he added.

Twitter attempted to set the record straight and denied claims that it has shadow banned certain users. In a July statement, the company — reportedly worth $24.6 billion — gave an inside look into its system for ranking tweets and search results. The process is intended to keep newsfeeds timely and relevant.

The social media platform takes three core criteria into account when it is ranking tweets. Twitter reported — “Tweets from bad-faith actors who intend to manipulate or divide the conversation should be ranked lower.” This piece of criteria has gotten the company into trouble and caused critics to question how an organization can objectively identify “bad-faith actors.”

Twitter pointed to three signals that it looks for when determining who should fall into this group:

1. Specific account properties that indicate authenticity (e.g. whether you have a confirmed email address, how recently your account was created, whether you uploaded a profile image, etc)

2.What actions you take on Twitter (e.g. who you follow, who you retweet, etc)

3. How other accounts interact with you (e.g. who mutes you, who follows you, who retweets you, who blocks you, etc)

Ajay Menendez — Executive Director of the HUNT Analyst Program at SecureSet — told PeerSource that in his view, it is reasonable that sites have to monitor content and attempt to keep the majority of the user base happy. “This is a tricky area, but Twitter reserves the right to keep the peace.”

Much of this debate boils down to intention, which is very difficult to prove. Determining who is purposely dividing conversation is subjective. “How do we tell whether someone is being sarcastic or passive-aggressive, especially when they claim not to be doing so? Determining what is what is like splitting hairs,” the cybersecurity expert said.

President Trump’s tweet vowing to look into accusations of shadowing banning has started a wildfire of conversations in the technology industry.

“It is not the government's responsibility to interfere with individual corporations and the content on their sites unless it breaks a law,” Menendez said.

Individuals may have a hard time proving that they have indeed been shadow banned.

“The only way is to create an alternate account or borrow someone else's account and see if your content is available and easy to find. If the availability of the content is different, something might be amiss,” Menendez advises social media users.

PeerSource will continue to report on the issue of shadow banning.

By Samantha Snellings 8-24-2018

CATEGORIES: Denver Colorado, PeerSource, Recruiting, Samantha Snellings, Sami Snellings, SecureSet, Shadow Banning, Technology

5 Entrepreneurs to Follow

5 Entrepreneurs to Follow

Tales of ambition, innovation, trials and triumph — that's what the podcast, How I Built This, focuses on. Guy Raz, the host of the series, interviews high-profile entrepreneurs and gives an inside look into the journeys that led to the creation of the world's best known companies. PeerSource put together a list of five inspiring episodes that you need to add to your list this month.

1. Manoj Bhargava — 5-Hour Energy

Who is Manoj Bhargava?

Manoj Bhargava, the founder of 5-Hour Energy, joined Guy Raz for an interview in March 2017. A recent documentary created about Bhargava, Billions in Change, reports that his net worth exceeds $4 billion.

What are the major takeaways from the podcast?

You do not have to be an expert to build something incredible.

“People always ask ‘Did you have a science background? Did you have a background in nutrition?’ No — that only messes you up further. It doesn’t really help you at all. Most inventions have been made by people who didn’t have a background in whatever they were inventing. If you look throughout history, the great stuff was made by people who did not follow the rules of the experts. Experts are great for telling you what you shouldn’t do and for that, they’re useful. But for what you SHOULD do — they don’t have a clue.” -Manoj Bhargava

Fall and get back up again.

“I fall so many times, I’ve got pavement marks on my face. So what? Just get up again and do it again. And I went through probably 20 different products — big failures, little failures. If you can’t do that, then you should best just go work at a large company.” -Manoj Bhargava

There are three things that every aspiring entrepreneur needs to know.

“First, use your common sense. Do not use MBA speak. Second, you have to be totally determined. I hate the word passionate because you get hit in the face a few times – passion seems to fade. Determination means basically your face hits the floor 20 times, you get up 21 times. The third thing you need is a sense of urgency. Do it now. Don’t wait. Don’t delay. If you have those three things, those are all you need.” -Manoj Bhargava

You can check out the How I Built This with Guy Raz podcast episode on 5-Hour Energy’s Manoj Bhargava here.

2. Yvon Chouinard — Patagonia

Who is Yvon Chouinard?

Yvon Chouinard started Patagonia is 1973. He joined Guy Raz for an interview in December 2017.

What are the major takeaways from the podcast?

Always ask yourself, “How could this be better?”

“I never intended to start a business. It's just — I just have this knack that every time I look at a product, I look at it and I think . . . I can make something better than that. It could be better. So every time we went climbing, we'd come back with ideas on how to improve the climbing gear, which was very crude in those days. And so, you know, I became a blacksmith. I taught myself blacksmithing so that I could make some of the climbing hardware that I thought would be better than what's available.” -Yvon Chouinard

Hire great employees and leave them alone.

“A lot of companies, they're top-down management. And it takes a tremendous amount of effort to run those. So what we decided to do is just hire motivated, young, independent people and leave them alone. And, I mean, I wrote a book called Let My People Go Surfing. We have a policy that when the surf comes up, drop work and you go surfing. I don't care when you work as long as the job gets done. I've had other companies come to me and say, ‘Oh, I love that idea, I think I'll institute it in my company.’ I say forget it. You'll fail because you have to start with the very first person you hire.” -Yvon Chouinard

Entrepreneurs are experts at breaking the rules.

“If you want to be successful in business, you don't go up against Coca-Cola and these big companies. They'll kill you. You just do it differently. You figure out something that no one else has thought about and you do it in a totally different way. And so breaking the rules, you have to be creative. And that's the fun part of business, actually. I love breaking the rules.” -Yvon Chouinard

You can check out the How I Built This with Guy Raz podcast episode on Patagonia’s Yvon Chouinard here.

3. Cathy Hughes — Radio One

Who is Cathy Hughes?

Cathy Hughes, founder of Radio One, joined Guy Raz in September 2016. “Hughes has the distinction of being the first African American woman to head a media company publicly traded on the U.S. Stock Exchange,” The History Makers reports.

What are the major takeaways from the podcast?

Your work ethic is your most important asset.

“You do not stop based off of what the clock says. You stop based off of the accomplishment of the task.” -Cathy Hughes

Dream so big that people think you are crazy.

“I wanted to be the first African American to have a syndicated radio show. I’ve had that desire since I was eight, nine, ten years old . . . Everyone thought at that time there was something wrong with me. I mean, there are no black people in radio, particularly no black women because, again, remember we are isolated in the middle of the United States in the 1950s? So, they thought I had a pipedream. My nuns at my school described it as 'delusions of grandeur' and told my mother she should perhaps seek counseling for me because I had this vision of being on the radio and people hearing me from coast to coast.” -Cathy Hughes

You have to see the future in your mind’s eye.

“If you think ‘Oh, it’s overwhelming. I’ve got all this debt. I can’t sell anything. I’m working 18-20 hours a day.’ Then, it’s too hard. You can’t do it. But, when you know that the day is going to arrive when you are going to have enough money to pay everyone — that’s what you have to see in your mind’s eye. That's what you have to believe. And I saw that. I knew it. I could feel it. And that is when I was in the sleeping bag, cooking on a hot plate, and washing up in the public bathroom in the radio station.” -Cathy Hughes

Cathy Hughes is referring to the fact that actually lived in the radio station when she first started out.

You can check out the How I Built This with Guy Raz podcast episode on Radio One’s Cathy Hughes here.

4. Neil Blumenthal and Dave Gilboa — Warby Parker

Who are Neil Blumenthal and Dave Gilboa?

Neil Blumenthal, Dave Gilboa, Andy Hunt and Jeff Raider founded Warby Parker. Neil Blumenthal and Dave Gilboa were guests on How I Built This to discuss the origins of the company. In the podcast, Guy Raz tells listeners, “The company actually partners with the nonprofit where Neil used to work, VisionSpring, to bring eyeglasses to people around the world who don't have access to them.”

What are the major takeaways from the podcast?

Do not be discouraged by where you start.

“We were working out of our apartments as full-time students. Our customer service line was a Google Voice number that we set up. When someone would call, it would simultaneously ring all four founders' cell phones.” -Dave Gilboa

Treat customers fairly from the beginning.

“You know, I think from the get-go, we wanted to create a business to have a positive impact on the world. And part of that is treating customers fairly. It's treating them fairly when it comes to price. It's treating them fairly when they call up and complain and to apologize and explain when we make mistakes. And that's something that we did from the very beginning.” -Dave Gilboa

Timing is everything.

“We were really lucky to be exposed to our marketing professor that helped us think through pricing. We had created goodwill by being friendly and doing well in his class — that he was willing to dedicate time to us. So I think there's a million examples of that or our friends calling in favors on our behalf. One of the things that we were just straight up lucky on is timing, right? Timing is everything. You know, coming off the financial crisis, the public was looking for ways to save money. And I think a brand like ours resonated even more.” -Neil Blumenthal

Invest in the important things.

“We basically, to start the business, only invested in three things — our initial inventory, our website and some PR, knowing that you only have one shot to sort of launch a brand.” -Neil Blumenthal

You can check out the How I Built This with Guy Raz podcast episode on Warby Parker’s Neil Blumenthal and Dave Gilboa here.

5. Troy Carter — Atom Factory

Who is Troy Carter?

Troy Carter has managed stars like Lady Gaga, Nelly, John Legend, Meghan Trainor and others. He also started Coalition Media Group, which later was called Atom Factory.

What are the major takeaways from the podcast?

Remember where you came from and know where you are going.

“You can't fall off the floor. And I was on the floor, nowhere to go, right? And my mom . . . she was a single mom. We grew up where a lot of times, we had to choose between whether we were going to have a phone line in the house or electricity. And I remember us being on the bed with a penny bank. And it was a bronze penny bank shaped like a pig. And she would stick a butter knife into the slot to get the coins to come out. And we would divide the coins up to get — you know, so me and my brother would have bus fare to get to school. So we grew up tough.” -Troy Carter

Mentors can change your life.

“I had a fifth-grade teacher named Ms. Moore. And I was always the littlest guy in the class . . . But she used to call me the ‘big guy.’ She made me feel like I was 6-foot-5 . . . It was something that she did psychologically that really, really made me feel, not only did I belong, but that I was special. So, sometimes I'll go into rooms where this person has a lot more experience than me. They're much smarter than I am. But I know what I know. And I think I bring a unique point of view to the table, just with different experiences. And I'm confident in that point of view.” -Troy Carter

Your past experiences can help you be a better negotiator.

“When you have to negotiate for survival and you have to know how to read rooms and you have to know who the bad guys in the rooms are, who has the gun in their pocket, who's just going to brandish it and who's going to actually pull the trigger — I think that's just a natural instinct that comes with coming from where I come from. So being able to take that tool into negotiations on reading people and reading rooms and reading circumstances I think is very, very important. Then, also, knowing what's important for that person on the other side of the table and what's important for the client.” -Troy Carter

You can check out the How I Built This with Guy Raz podcast episode on Atom Factory’s Troy Carter here.

About Samantha

Samantha Snellings is the Social Media Manager at PeerSource and a student at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Last summer, she interned for senior White House correspondent, John Gizzi, in Washington. She attended the daily White House press briefings, wrote articles, and only occasionally got in trouble with the Secret Service for stepping on the president’s lawn. She is passionate about her faith, journalism, entrepreneurship, traveling, and politics.

Follow Samantha on Instagram and Twitter or connect with her on LinkedIn. Follow PeerSource on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, and Twitter. Feel free to share this article and give Samantha feedback at

By Samantha Snellings 8-8-2018

10 Tips for the Transition from College to the Workforce

10 Tips for the Transition from College to the Workforce

College seniors are often scrambling during their spring semester — worried about securing a full-time job, finding a place to live and preparing for the big transition that takes place after graduation day. I talked to Abbey Overlee, Talent Acquisition Specialist at PeerSource, who graduated from Colorado State University in May 2017. She offered me ten tips for transitioning from college to the workforce.

1. Clean up your online presence.

“If you would be uncomfortable showing a photo or a post to a future employer, delete it,” Overlee advised. Hiring managers and recruiters often take a look at your LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram and other social media platforms to gain insight into who you are as a person.

Make sure that you are enhancing your personal brand, rather than diminishing it.

2. Be on the lookout for new opportunities.

“Sign up for job fairs, subscribe to newsletters and check online websites like Monster and Indeed. There are so many job boards out there,” the Talent Acquisition Specialist pointed out.

Go to your professors’ office hours and have a conversation about your career goals. They are experts in their fields, understand changes that are happening in the industry and may be willing to connect you with companies that align with your interests.

3. Utilize your Career Center.

The CSU Career Center was a helpful resource for Abbey Overlee during her college years. “I actually went to a career counselor that helped me write my resume and cover letter, which was extremely helpful. You can schedule appointments with them once a week for about an hour. They review your resume, ask you questions and help you figure out your career path,” she said.

4. Tailor your resume to the specific position.

Hiring managers and recruiters are often overwhelmed with applications and scan for keywords when they are reviewing resumes. If your resume does not include those keywords, they may disregard you as a candidate.

Look over the specific job description and tailor your resume to showcase how you would add value to the company. In Abbey Overlee’s opinion — “Buzzwords are huge. It could be the difference between getting an interview or not.”

5. Be proactive.

After applying for a job, do your research and find out who the hiring manager is at the company. Send him or her a follow-up email expressing your interest in the position.

“This will show that you take initiative. It aids in building a more personal connection and may even help the individual remember you when they are sifting through applications,” Overlee advised.

6. Prepare for your job interview.

“Career centers often offer a mock interview service. Ask your advisor to critique your performance and provide tangible steps to improve your interviewing skills,” Overlee said.

Do extensive research on the company that you are interested in working for prior to the initial interview. Impress the hiring manager by having deep knowledge of the industry as well as familiarity with the organization’s past projects.

Hiring managers will often end an interview by asking the candidate if he or she has any questions about the company or the position. It is easy to freeze up in the moment, so mentally prepare a list of thoughtful questions ahead of time.

7. Be appreciative.

“Thank you notes and emails go a long way,” Overlee said. Take the time to thank the interviewer for his or her time. Even if you do not get the position, you will leave a lasting positive impression on the hiring manager.

8. Be prepared to discuss salary expectations and job offers.

Do your research and know what salary range people in your area are generally receiving for a given position. Websites like,, or can give you more specific information and even compare what other companies pay for the same job.

After you have done this, figure out what the company is willing to pay and what their range is for the position.

Be enthusiastic. Even if the offer is lower than you expected, always be gracious and express excitement before you discuss your pay range needs. If you are going to negotiate the salary, be able to explain why you are asking for that amount and how you would bring that level of value to the company.

9. Accept or pass on the offer with class.

When you receive an offer, you can choose to accept the position or pass on the opportunity.

In both cases — be kind, patient and grateful. Hiring managers and recruiters will tell you that a person’s character is defined in these final moments.

10. Seek out mentors.

“It can be intimidating to reach out to experienced professionals for mentorship, but keep in mind that most individuals are willing to help young people. After all, they were once in your shoes,” Overlee reminds college students.

The worst thing that can happen is the individual says no. In that case, you have lost nothing. You are left in the same position that you were in before you reached out to the person.

Have the courage to extend a simple coffee invitation to a professional that you admire.

“Mentally prepare for the transition, and understand that it is going to be tough,” Overlee said. In the months following graduation, you will likely be overwhelmed. But, be reassured that this season of life will pass, and the best days are yet to come. Ten years from now, you may be the person offering college students mentorship and reassuring them that things get better.

About Samantha

Samantha Snellings is the Social Media Manager at PeerSource and a student at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Last summer, she interned for senior White House correspondent, John Gizzi, in Washington. She attended the daily White House press briefings, wrote articles, and only occasionally got in trouble with the Secret Service for stepping on the president’s lawn. She is passionate about her faith, journalism, entrepreneurship, traveling, and politics.

Follow Samantha on Instagram and Twitter or connect with her on LinkedIn. Follow PeerSource on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, and Twitter. Feel free to share this article and give Samantha feedback at

By Samantha Snellings 8-3-2018

CATEGORIES: Abbey Overlee, Career Advice, Career Tips, College, Denver Colorado, Job Search, News, PeerSource, Recruiting, Samantha Snellings, Sami Snellings


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