Elon Musk had a brilliant idea nearly one year ago: make Twitter’s recommendation algorithm public. Recently, this idea has come to life, as Twitter posted its algorithm code on GitHub. During a discussion about his plan on Twitter Space, Musk encouraged users to help improve the code by looking for any possible problems with it.
Musk said the first version of their computer program, which they call an “algorithm”, will have a lot of errors but that they can be fixed soon. He also mentioned that the code released Friday has to do with how posts appear in Twitter’s “For You” feed, and not yet for search results or other parts of the website. Musk added that they will definitely make the search algorithm publicly available at some point too.
Twitter recently released a blog post about the algorithm they use to choose which tweets appear in your feed. People have noticed interesting details when exploring the code, like that Twitter specifically labels whether someone’s tweet was made by Elon Musk or if they’re a ‘power user’ (someone who tweets often). It even knows if they’re a Republican or Democrat! This could explain why we see so many of Musk’s tweets on our feeds.
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When asked about categorizing Twitter users, Musk said “I don’t think we should be dividing people into Republicans and Democrats, that doesn’t make any sense.” A Twitter engineer then explained that the categories were only for “tracking certain data” so we don’t show favoritism to one group or another. He didn’t explain why Musk had his own category though.
A person asked, “Isn’t it weird that there are four categories and one of them is Elon?” Musk replied, “I didn’t know about this before. I think its strange too.” The Twitter engineer didn’t answer with a response. After not long, the conversation ended.