Elon Musk pledges to open Twitter’s algorithm up to public, says it will improve

Twitter owner Elon Musk is pledging to open up the social media platform’s algorithm for public viewing, as he makes changes to how the company recommends content to people.

Twitter has experimented with different approaches for surfacing content to users on its platform. The social media company’s website and app now allow users to toggle between “For you” and “Following” tabs, which provide different options for viewing content online.

The “For you” tab presents posts recommended to a user based on their activity, and the “Following” tab is intended to display content from people the user follows in a chronological fashion.

In response to a user who wanted to avoid having their feed overwhelmed with sports content, Mr. Musk said on Twitter that the product will improve.

“The recommendation algorithm will get much better and it will be open source,” Mr. Musk said on Monday.

He noted that people who trash other accounts online will see more of the accounts they criticize because of how Twitter’s algorithm works.

“Trashing accounts that you hate will cause our algorithm to show you more of those accounts, as it is keying off of your interactions,” Mr. Musk said on Twitter. “Basically saying if you love trashing *that* account, then you will probably also love trashing *this* account. Not actually wrong lol.”

Tech writers have raised concerns that Mr. Musk’s pledges to reveal the company’s algorithm may expose the platform to new problems and not tell average users much about how Twitter operates.

The MIT Technology Review suggested last April that opening the algorithm would allow competitors to copy the computer code, while Wired has questioned the value of the information provided by a single algorithm, given Twitter’s reported reliance on several algorithms.

Mr. Musk’s pledge to allow transparency into his platform’s algorithm comes amid several proposals from U.S. policymakers calling for transparency surrounding tech companies’ algorithms. For example, the American Data Privacy and Protection Act introduced last year by Reps. Frank Pallone, New Jersey Democrat, and Cathy McMorris Rodgers, Washington Republican, sought to test algorithms for bias.

While Mr. Musk continues to tinker with how his company displays content online, he is also reportedly working on content sponsorship deals with news outlets and sports leagues. More than three dozen media companies and sports leagues, including groups like the NFL and ESPN, have plans for content sponsorship deals partnering the publishers with various advertisers, according to Axios.

Mr. Musk shared news of the new content deals in a tweet on Tuesday saying, “The party is on!!”

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