Elon Musk revives the debate on the controversial algorithm of Twitter
Elon Musk is a regular tweeter. The Tesla (TSLA) – Get the Tesla Inc report The CEO tweets around the clock, during the workday and late at night.
The Billionaire’s Extensive Thought Process on Twitter (TWTR) – Get the report from Twitter, Inc. frequently jumps from his own pet projects to law enforcement and social media.
His recent tweets range from support for the Artemis III astronauts traveling to the moon aboard Musk’s SpaceX Starship Human Landing System to a meme poking fun at the Federal Bureau of Investigation and its spy abilities to an opinion poll on the composition of the algorithm of the microblogging site Twitter.
Musk asked his nearly 80 million followers if Twitter’s algorithm should be made open source. The poll received over 1.1 million votes and an 82.7% majority of users who responded agreed.
Twitter co-founder and former CEO Jack Dorsey was quick to come to the social media platform’s defense and countered that the accolade is a “choice” open to anyone. The pun was probably intentional.
Dorsey is now the leader of financial payments company Block (SQ) – Obtain Class A report from Block Incformerly known as Square.
Why is this important?
Twitter’s algorithm is what determines the many tweets users can see on their timeline, the type of tweets they are likely to see, the people most likely to appear on their timeline based on their engagement, and user activity on the platform.
“An algorithmic House timeline displays a feed of Tweets from the accounts you’ve chosen to follow on Twitter, as well as recommendations for other content you might be interested in based on accounts you interact with frequently, Tweets you interact with, and more » , says Twitter in a blog post.
Twitter’s algorithm uses machine learning capabilities to sort content based on different ranking signals. Twitter’s algorithms also power Twitter’s Trending, Topics, and Recommendations, which appear in the notifications tab.
In 2016, Twitter gave users a choice between an algorithmically ordered Twitter timeline or displaying the latest tweets.
An open-source Twitter algorithm could potentially be used, modified, and shared by the public, making it more transparent and encouraging healthy competition.
But there is also a downside.
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“Open source software has been an incredible democratizing and innovative force for the digital world. popular people depend on it,” wrote the former Google (GOOGL) – Get the Class A report from Alphabet Inc. Managing Director Eric Schmidt and Schmidt Futures Lead Researcher Frank Long in a co-authored article in The Wall Street Journal.
“It’s not just an issue for tech companies and their users. It’s also a national security issue. The prevalence of open source means its security is critical to our infrastructure, putting a lot of Internet and millions of citizens at risk of attack,” Schmidt and Long added.
Why is Twitter’s algorithm controversial?
Social media companies have long been criticized for growing polarization, extremist rhetoric, echo chambers, misinformation and radicalization online through their algorithms.
They have also come under routine political attack from Republicans claiming they are biased. In 2018, Twitter came under congressional scrutiny for alleged bias in the United States.
“There is to some degree a certain politicization of what goes and doesn’t go into the Twitter algorithm,” former Pennsylvania congressman Ryan Costello, a Republican, said at the time. “Content judgment comes in when certain tweets need to be removed. There are constitutional questions about a company’s right to remove content solely on the basis of political direction,” he said. to Bloomberg in an interview.
Former President Trump, who has made the tweet a centerpiece of his tenure, has repeatedly complained of bias. Trump was eventually kicked off Twitter following the Jan. 6 uprising, “due to the risk of further incitement to violence.” It has since attempted, with limited success, to set up rival social media platforms that closely mimic the functions of Twitter.
Dorsey argued that Twitter’s policies operate on fairness and encourage transparency.
Beyond politics, in 2020 Twitter’s image algorithm was criticized for focusing on white faces rather than darker ones. Twitter said its tests showed no racial or gender bias, although it announcement features giving more users more control over images because “we recognize that the way we automatically crop photos means there is potential for harm”.
What is Open Source?
The term open source refers to something that people can modify and share because its design is publicly available.
Twitter supports the open source community for the developers it works with. The company has also funded talent to encourage a system that can create an “open, decentralized standard for social media.”
Dorsey also publicly addressed the issue of recommendation algorithms in a series of tweets in 2019.
He added that Square and Twitter were struggling to find a democratic standard for accessing and contributing to a much larger body of public conversation.
Experts have in the past argued that Dorsey was the first to point out gaps and areas Twitter needs to work on.