Twitter releases its algorithm to the world, making it the first platform to bring transparency to social media
Keeping to his promise of transparency, Twitter today released its algorithm to the public for the first time since its inception over a decade ago. The social platform behemoth released the source code that shows which tweets show up on your timeline to GitHub, “marking a new era of transparency for Twitter.”
“We’re sharing much of the source code that powers our platform with the world,” the Twitter Engineering team said in a tweet.
Today marks a new era of transparency for Twitter. 🧵
We’re sharing much of the source code that powers our platform with the world. Visit our blog to learn more about this initiative: https://t.co/hTHVpuMDz8
— Twitter Engineering (@TwitterEng) March 31, 2023
In his response to the release announcement, Musk said:
“Most of the recommendation algorithm will be made open source today. The rest will follow. Acid test is that independent third parties should be able to determine, with reasonable accuracy, what will probably be shown to users. No doubt, many embarrassing issues will be discovered, but we will fix them fast!”
Most of the recommendation algorithm will be made open source today. The rest will follow.
Acid test is that independent third parties should be able to determine, with reasonable accuracy, what will probably be shown to users.
No doubt, many embarrassing issues will be… https://t.co/41U4oexIev
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) March 31, 2023
In a blog post, Twitter said: “the recommendation pipeline is made up of three main stages.” First, it gathers “the best Tweets from different recommendation sources,” and then it ranks those tweets with “a machine learning model.”
Finally, it filters out tweets from people you’ve blocked, tweets you’ve already seen, or tweets that are not safe for work, before putting them on your timeline.
“On GitHub, you’ll find two new repositories (main repo, ml repo) containing the source code for many parts of Twitter, including our recommendations algorithm, which controls the Tweets you see on the For You timeline. We’re also sharing more information on our recommendation algorithm in this post on our Engineering Blog.”
The post also adds, “For this release, we aimed for the highest possible degree of transparency, while excluding any code that would compromise user safety and privacy or the ability to protect our platform from bad actors, including undermining our efforts at combating child sexual exploitation and manipulation. Today’s release also does not include the code that powers our ad recommendations,” Twitter said.
Following the acquisition of Twitter last year, Musk promised to make Twitter’s “algorithms open source to increase trust, defeating the spambots, and authenticating all humans.”
“Free speech is the bedrock of a functioning democracy, and Twitter is the digital town square where matters vital to the future of humanity are debated,” said Mr. Musk. “I also want to make Twitter better than ever by enhancing the product with new features, making the algorithms open source to increase trust, defeating the spambots, and authenticating all humans. Twitter has tremendous potential – I look forward to working with the company and the community of users to unlock it,” Musk said in a tweet on April 25.