Twitter’s algorithms may be amplifying the very controversial content that the platform and pro-censorship users are trying to limit.
A new report indicates that angry Twitter users may ironically be amplifying tweets by dunking on them. New York University researchers reportedly examined Twitter content from members of the U.S. Congress and discovered how angry users targeting content they disagree with may actually be “cueing” the platform’s algorithms to amplify that content.
The analysis “suggested that when users swarm tweets to denounce them with quote tweets and replies, they might be cueing Twitter’s algorithm to see them as particularly engaging,” MSNBC reported. In other words, more users may see the tweet than otherwise would have seen it thanks to those piling on, MSNBC explained.
A Twitter internal study of news organizations and elected officials “in seven countries … found that in six of them” the “right-wing” sources and individuals were allegedly more amplified on Twitter than their “left-wing” counterparts. NYU researchers pointed to the Twitter phenomenon of “ratioing” for what might be driving the trend. MSNBC described “ratioing” as a tweet receiving more comments, or quote tweets and replies, than retweets. The researchers reportedly hypothesized that “right-wing politicians” are “ratioed” more on Twitter than left-wing politicians. The researchers said there is no “causal link” or definite proof that this theory is correct, however, MSNBC summarized.
The study is particularly unsurprising, as a 2020 report found that just over 99 percent of Twitter employee political donations went to Democrats. Twitter employees had melt-downs during the 2020 election over a potential Trump win. On top of that, Pew Research Center did a 2019 poll that found that Twitter users are both younger and more likely to be Democrats than the general American public. And FiveThirtyEight reported back in 2017 that political Twitter “is no place for moderates,” as active tweeters are usually from the two political extremes.
Social media algorithms and online free speech have been a major political issue ever since leftist activist turned Facebook “whistleblower” Frances Haugen began her revelations. A new bipartisan bill introduced into both the U.S. Senate and House aims to create the option of social media without algorithms. Several senators, and Haugen herself, have called for increased regulation and censorship of social media.
Twitter has proven itself biased against conservatives many times. A Twitter account that claimed to track “[t]he best of what’s happening on Twitter in an instant” provided leftist content over conservative content at a six-to-one ratio. Twitter recently banned conservatives for allegedly “misgendering” the “transgender” Admiral Rachel Levine. Twitter permanently banned then-President Donald Trump from the platform in January 2021. MRC NewsBusters reported in May 2020 on 33 instances of Twitter’s anti-conservative bias.
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