Social media analyst Jonathan Albright got a call from Facebook the day after he published research last week showing that the reach of the Russian disinformation campaign was almost certainly larger than the company had disclosed. While the company had said 10 million people read Russian-bought ads, Albright had data suggesting that the audience was at least double that -- and maybe much more -- if ordinary free Facebook posts were measured as well.
Albright welcomed the chat with three company officials. But he was not pleased to discover that they had done more than talk about their concerns regarding his research. They also had scrubbed from the Internet nearly everything -- thousands of Facebook posts and the related data -- that had made the work possible.
Never again would he or any other researcher be able to run the kind of analysis he had done just days earlier.
Twitter pledged to do better in such situations, noting "we will be clearer about these policies and decisions in the future."
For close observers of Twitter's opaque harassment rules and its inconsistent enforcement of them this is a familiar dance. That's because Twitter wants everyone to know it is committed to transparency. It is also committed to committing to being committed to transparency.
Twitter was committed to transparency last month when it refused to clarify its stance toward president Donald Trump's tweets about North Korea, which the country said it viewed as an "act of war."
Twitter affirmed its commitment to transparency 4 times last month in a blog post summarizing its Russian election interference testimony before congress. Sen. Mark Warner described Twitter's presentation as "inadequate" in almost every way.
In January of this year, Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey pledged to be more open and transparent about addressing the company's decade long battle with systemic harassment on its platform.
This summer -- despite reports that repeat harassment victims were still finding their abuse reports wrongly dismissed -- Twitter affirmed its commitment to greater transparency.
That same month, when BuzzFeed News presented the company with 27 explicit examples of harassment, Twitter replied with its boilerplate statement. And company co-founder Biz Stone promised the company would be more transparent.
This is likely because Twitter has a history of committing to being more transparent.
Like in 2015, when Dorsey apologized to developers for Twitter's past restrictions of third-party apps and pledged to be more transparent.
Similar to the kind of transparency the company promised in 2015 when Twitter began making federal campaign contributions.
Transparency, you see, is part of Twitter's 10-year plan.
But Twitter is committed to openness and clarity. Pledging a commitment to transparency is one of the things Twitter does best.
Perhaps that's because the company has been doing it since 2008.