Analysis News

Twitter admits its systems favour right-wing tweets

Favouring the right: Twitter’s algorithms

Twitter has admitted that its algorithms favour right-wing messages. The company says that an analysis of the behaviour of its ‘home’ timeline, the default that its users see, compared to a purely chronological feed of the latest tweets, showed a marked bias in favour of right-wing political messages.

In the UK, that has advantaged the Tories compared to Labour by a factor of around 1.5 to one, a 50% gain, although with Keir Starmer’s lurch to the right the numbers may even up a little.

Twitter joins Facebook in admitting it has favoured the right, although the company claims it doesn’t know why its algorithm is doing this while Facebook changed its systems specifically for that purpose and relaxed its fact-checking standards for right-wing outlets.

Twitter has acknowledged that its findings are ‘problematic’ and says that it intends to do further research.

Skwawkbox reported in 2017 and 2018 on Facebook’s algorithm changes, noting that they were making it harder for people to find news from left-wing outlets.

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  1. Algorithms twist around to the right as they evolve. Happens with the MSM as well. Just like plants growing towards the sun. Not much we can do about it.

    1. I’d say that was a blessing in disguise. If everyone were to ditch their smartphones tomorrow, the structures of global power over us would get a knee-capping and tip the future of society in our favour…

  2. With social media increasingly part of the electoral battleground, all these tech companies should be forced to be transparent.

    Their algorithms ought to be in the public domain, not just shared with a select group of research academics. Any govt or army ‘influence operations’ should also be public knowledge too. We saw with the Integrity Initiative revelations, how regardless of initial intent, govt propaganda can quickly stray into becoming political bias, with the attacks on Corbyn. It’s ridiculous for instance how RT is forced on Twitter, to have ‘Russia state- affiliated media’ clearly displayed, but these UK FCO operatives don’t have any such distinction.

    I believe such transparency would be good for these tech companies too; in that it could help them argue they really are simply neutral platforms not publishers (editorialising).

    1. BBC – UK state-affiliated media. Should be stated on all their media outlets.

  3. “A lie can travel half way round the world before the truth can even put its pants on” goes the saying. That’s why the algorithm favours unthinking kneejerk reactions, stereotypes, prejudice, magical thinking, circular thinking and hateful comments. In other words, right wing comments.

    1. It’s not just that.

      Tech billionaires aren’t going to let their platforms be used to spread populist ideas around radical redistribution, or breaking up tech monopolies, are they?

      It’s not difficult to understand why they favour centre-right centrist politicians and the fiscally libertarian right.

  4. So THAT’S why keef writes for the s*n, agrees with de piffle on just about everything, and is trying to eradicate any and every member with a left -leaning view.

    …It’s down to twitter and it’s algorithms…He wants to tweet borderline communist views, but Twitter won’t publish them, and he needs to be heard. 😒

  5. “Harris joined the Labour Party in 1984.” (Wikipedia).

    I think he once wrote that he was inspired to do so by Neil Kinnock.

    Yes, it all adds up.

  6. I too read the article about the Twitter algorithm favouring the promotion of rightwing tweets in an analysis conducted in 2019/2020 which was the period when Trump was tweeting. But the article did not mention that bit about Trump and his ‘followers’ wold have promoted him anyway. So I am not sure how the analysis was done and what parameters applied or how algorithms might work in this case -but I have always thought the voice of the right is far more dominant because the voice of extremism is at the level of the individual is fuelled by obsessive fanaticism ; at the level of geo politics, funded by rival world governments who want influence; and the third group sees right wing trolls, paid to tweet and spin by wealthy elites empoying messages and misinformation that benefits those same elites. It is important to spend some time each day countrig the worst of these on climate change, covid , immigration and asylum, poverty, housing, welfare, racism, and the economy.

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