Revealed: Twitter’s algorithm favours right-wing politics

An internal study by social media giant, Twitter, has revealed that its algorithm favours right-wing politics and content.

Twitter said it made the discovery while exploring how its algorithm recommends political content to users.

The internal study which examined tweets from political parties and users sharing content from news outlets in seven countries around the world revealed that Twitter amplifies tweets from right-leaning political parties and news outlets more than from the left-wing.

In all, it analysed millions of tweets sent between 1st April and 15th August 2020 from the US, Japan, Canada, Spain, France, UK, and Germany.

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The data which was used to see which tweets were being amplified more on an algorithmically ordered feed compared with a reverse-chronological feed, both of which users have an option of using, revealed that mainstream parties and outlets on the right-wing enjoyed higher levels of algorithmic amplification as compared with their counterparts on the left.

But they admit they did not know the reason behind it, saying that was a “more difficult question to answer”.

The Director of Twitter’s Meta team, Rumman Chowdhury has said that the company’s next step would be to find out the reason behind the trend.

“In six out of seven countries, tweets posted by political-right elected officials are algorithmically amplified more than the political left. Right-leaning news outlets… see greater amplification compared to left-leaning,” she said.

“Establishing why these observed patterns occur is a significantly more difficult question to answer and something Meta will examine.”

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The researchers have however noted that the difference in amplification could be due to the “differing strategies” used by political parties to reach audiences on the platform.

They also said the findings did not suggest that its algorithms pushed “extreme ideologies more than mainstream political voices” – another common concern expressed by Twitter’s critics.

This is not the first time Twitter has highlighted apparent bias in its algorithm.

In April, the platform revealed that it was conducting a study to determine whether its algorithms contributed to “unintentional harms”.

In May, the company revealed that its automatic cropping of images had underlying issues that favoured white individuals over black people, and women over men.


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Source additional info from BBC
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