Twitter reveals parts of the source code behind the microsite’s algorithm
On Friday, Twitter released parts of the computer code that decides how the social media site recommends content, allowing users and programmers to preview how it works and suggest changes to the algorithm.
The company said in a blog post that it uploaded the code to two repositories on the Github code-sharing platform. They include source code for many parts of Twitter, including the recommendations algorithm that controls which tweets users see on their timeline.
The move comes at the behest of its billionaire owner Elon Musk, who said code transparency would lead to greater trust among users and rapid product improvements.
It also serves to address common concerns from users and regulators, who are increasingly scrutinizing social media platforms about how algorithms select the content users see.
Musk tweeted on Friday that third parties should be able to analyze open source code and “determine, with reasonable accuracy, what is likely to be shown to users.”
“No doubt many embarrassing problems will be discovered, but we will solve them quickly!” he tweeted.
Musk also said Twitter will update its recommendation algorithm based on user suggestions every 24 to 48 hours.
On Friday, Musk and some Twitter employees held a session on Spaces, Twitter’s audio chat feature, asking users to contribute recommendations and questions about how the platform’s code works.
One person asked why Twitter’s code seemed to classify users as Republicans or Democrats. A Twitter employee replied that this was an old feature that was not important to the platform’s recommendation system and that the company was looking to remove it.
The repositories on Github do not include the code that powers Twitter’s ad recommendations, the company said.
It also said it excluded code that would compromise user security or privacy, as well as details that would compromise efforts to prevent child sexual abuse material on the platform.
The news also comes after parts of Twitter’s source code was leaked on Github, which removed the code last week at Twitter’s request.
Twitter asked the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California to order Github to produce “all identifying information” associated with the Github account that posted the leaked code, according to a legal filing.
© Thomson Reuters 2023
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