Elon Musk has put his money where his mouth is and made one of Twitter’s most important algorithms public. This means that anyone can now access the code that is responsible for recommendations on the social media platform. Whether this transparency offensive really only brings advantages for Musk?
Elon Musk makes Twitter transparent
At the heart of any IT company are certainly individual algorithms. These codes are considered the foundation for business success, especially in social networks. Accordingly, algorithms are also kept under lock and key and are subject to the highest security standards. Elon Musk does not seem to think much of this approach. The controversial tech billionaire, who took the chief executive position at Twitter in October 2022, has now made the recommendation algorithm public. With that, he’s actually putting his announcement from a few days ago into action. You, me, and everyone else in the world can now access the code conveniently via Github. Musk himself emphasizes that this is supposed to be an incomplete excerpt from the algorithm so far. But the rest is still to follow, as he announces on Twitter.
Left out, according to Musk, is the code that ensures user privacy and security while protecting Twitter from third-party attacks. The Tesla boss is now adulating himself in the wake of the open-souce campaign, calling the move “a new era of transparency for Twitter.” Whether he would really have done this if there hadn’t been a few questionable codes of conduct in the run-up to the campaign is something to question. In February 2023, accusations were made that Elon Musk had had the algorithm adjusted. After all, users were increasingly seeing tweets from the tech visionary on the homepage. It can now be inferred from the published codes that a redesign had indeed taken place recently.
Did Musk have the algorithm changed?
One must definitely ask the question whether the publication is a really helpful insight into the workings of Twitter. Since the codes of the now published recommendation algorithm are in constant change, they should probably be outdated again by now. On top of that, it only makes sense in combination with the unpublished parts. And even then, the recommendation algorithm is supposed to be characterized by its complexity. At least, that is what we can conclude from the fact that Musk himself says that Twitter still has problems understanding the code internally.
If the words of IT experts with insight into the algorithm are to be believed, then it seems that Musk’s accusation of an adaptation may now be confirmed. But Twitter was quick to respond. After the first people pointed it out online, the corresponding part quickly disappeared again on Github. Apparently, there really seems to be something to it. Musk himself would certainly not like to accept the accusation and would simply argue with the topicality of the algorithm. After all, the algorithm is supposed to be updated every day or even every two days. The social network also wants to incorporate codes from Github in the spirit of the open source idea. Given Twitter’s poor standing in the IT community, however, this might not be so advisable for the social network.