Twitter to open source its algorithm next week, says Elon Musk

He has been in favor of the idea before he even bid to acquire the social media company.
Ameya Paleja
Elon Musk

Social media company Twitter will make its algorithm open-source next week, its CEO Elon Musk said in a tweet yesterday. The move is expected to bring more transparency into Twitter's functions and help researchers understand how extremist speech can be countered.

This is one of the changes Musk had proposed to bring to Twitter last year if he acquired the social media company. The long acquisition saga ended in October when the two parties agreed to sell at Musk's proposed $44 billion offer. However, things got ugly quickly after Musk became the CEO and fired more than half the staff as a cost-cutting measure.

Twitter algorithm to go open-source

After months of being in the news for all the wrong reasons, Twitter seems to be getting its house in order. The paid Twitter Blue subscription has finally been rolled out without any troubles and is also being copied by other social media platforms.

Now that Musk does not seem to be bothered too much by the finances, he appears to be making changes that matter. Back in March last year, Musk had expressed concern about how bias in Twitter's algorithm affects public discourse and users did not know what was happening behind the scenes.

Nearly a year later, he tweeted that his $44 billion Twitter acquisition was much like acquiring the world's largest non-profit organization. When a Twitter user commented that he would be truly impressed if Twitter's algorithms were open-source, Musk responded.

Jack Dorsey, Twitter's cofounder and former CEO, had previously said that the algorithm was based on popularity and users' interests and intended to save users time. However, the platform has also been alleged to amplify extremist views, and experts told Business Insider that knowing how it works could help researchers identify ways to counter it.

While this is good news, Twitter has also said that its API, which can be used to gather data or design bots, will be available for a fee, putting it out of the reach of many researchers.

Guess it's one step forward and two backward at Twitter for now.

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