Saturday, January 29, 2022

Contrary to popular belief, Twitter’s algorithm amplifies conservative voices, not liberal voices

When Republican Representative Jim Jordan attended a judicial hearing in 2020, he explained why he dislikes companies like Twitter.

“Big Tech is out to get conservative,” Jordan declared. “It’s no doubt. It’s not a hunch. It’s a fact. I said that at our last hearing two months ago. It’s equally true today.”

Jordan’s claim is not isolated. Under the leadership of former President Trump, a growing number of right-wing voices are claiming that social media is biased in favor of liberals and progressives, shutting down conservatives. But an internal study released by Twitter shows the opposite is true – in the US, as well as in most of the countries analyzed, it is actually conservative voices that are more amplified than liberal voices.

“Our results reveal a remarkably consistent trend: in 6 out of 7 countries studied [including the US]The mainstream political right enjoys higher algorithmic amplification than the mainstream political left. Consistent with this overall trend, our second set of findings studying the US media landscape showed that algorithmic amplification favors right-wing news sources,” reads the Twitter study.

Algorithmic amplification refers to a type of story ‘amplified’ by Twitter’s algorithm – in other words, a story that the algorithm is more likely to show to other users.

The study has two main parts. The first focused on the US and analyzed which media outlets were more likely to be politicized, while the second focused on tweets from politicians from seven countries.

Twitter analyzed millions of tweets posted between April 1 and August 15, 2020. The tweets were selected from news outlets and elected officials in 7 countries: Canada, France, Germany, Japan, Spain, UK and US. In all countries except Germany, tweets from right-wing accounts “get more algorithmic amplification than the political left.” In general, right-wing content from news outlets benefits from the same bias. In other words, users on Twitter are more likely to see right-leaning content rather than left-leaning, all things being equal. For example, in the UK, right-wing conservatives enjoy an amplification rate of 176%, compared to 112% for the left-leaning Labor Party.

Contrary to popular belief, Twitter's algorithm amplifies conservative voices, not liberal voices
The gap was larger in some countries, but overall, there was a clear tendency for Twitter’s algorithms to favor the political right.

However, Twitter emphasizes that its algorithm does not favor extreme content from either side of the political spectrum.

“We further looked at whether algorithms increase far-left and far-right political groups compared to liberal ones: contrary to popular public belief, we did not find evidence to support this hypothesis. We expect our findings to be political. will contribute to an evidence-based debate on the role of personalization algorithms in shaping content consumption.”

While it is clear that political content is promoted on Twitter, it is not entirely clear why this happens. However, it appears to be linked to a single phenomenon present across all social media platforms. Algorithms are designed to foster intense conversation and debate – and a side effect of this is that controversy often escalates. Simply put, if a US Democrat says something about a Republican (or vice versa), it is likely to attract both praise and criticism, and is likely to be promoted and promoted by the algorithm.

Although Twitter didn’t directly focus on this, the incident is also key to the propaganda that we’ve seen a lot during the pandemic. For example, if a conspiracy theory is posted on Twitter, there’s a good chance it will gather both the evaluations of those who see it and the criticism of those who see it – making it more likely to pop up on social media.

It is interesting that Germany stands as an exception, but this may be related to Germany’s agreement with Facebook, Twitter and Google to remove hate speech within 24 hours. This is still only speculation and there may be other factors at play.

Ultimately, in addition to refuting a popular conspiracy theory that social media is against conservatives, the study shows how social media algorithms can shape and influence public opinion by presenting some posts instead of others. The Twitter study is an encouraging first step towards greater transparency, but it is a small step when we see a very long haul ahead of us.

Nation World News Desk
Nation World News is the fastest emerging news website covering all the latest news, world’s top stories, science news entertainment sports cricket’s latest discoveries, new technology gadgets, politics news, and more.
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