After Elon Musk’s decision to make Twitter’s algorithm open source, a researcher claims to have discovered a mechanism that would enable government interference in the algorithm.
According to Breitbart, on Friday Musk made good on his promise by posting a section of Twitter’s recommendation algorithm to the popular code-sharing platform GitHub, where developers can discuss and improve open-source projects together.
Nevertheless, web engineer Steven Tey said he found a technique in the coding that the U.S. government may use to alter the website’s algorithm.
“When needed, the government can intervene with the Twitter algorithm. In fact, @TwitterEng (Twitter Engineering) even has a class for it – ‘GovernmentRequested,” Tey tweeted about it and provided a GitHub link.
When Musk bought Twitter in October for $44 billion, he promised more openness and the removal of limits on some types of speech and accounts which had been instituted under Twitter’s prior administration.
His plan was to provide the algorithm’s source code so that anybody could study it, he explained “our ‘algorithm’ is overly complex & not fully understood internally,” also, “people will discover many silly things, but we’ll patch issues as soon as they’re found!”
Tey also found that the algorithm considers a user’s following-to-follower ratio when deciding which individuals to promote; this has a detrimental impact on accounts having a small number of followers but a large number of accounts being followed.
Users that pay Twitter $8 per month to have their accounts “confirmed” with a blue checkmark are given preferential treatment by the algorithm. After that, we divide them up into groups like “power users,” “Democrats,” and “Republicans.”
Twitter’s relationship with the federal government has been controversial before Musk’s takeover, and the revelation of the government intervention tool is only the latest example. Musk has made it a point to be as transparent as possible, and he has done so by releasing information about Twitter’s previous leadership on a regular basis.
This information has taken the form of screenshots of emails and other correspondence between former Twitter employees and government officials, and it has revealed extensive collusion between these individuals.
The data would be released to freelance reporters and discussed at length in Twitter threads, earning them the moniker “The Twitter Files.”