A researcher claims to have found a tool allowing for government intervention in Twitter’s algorithm, upon Elon Musk’s decision to allow the algorithm to become open sourced to the public.
Breitbart reports that Musk honored his promise on Friday by releasing a portion of Twitter’s recommendation algorithm on the website GitHub, where computer programmers often go to share and collaborate on work dealing with open-source code.
Web developer Steven Tey then claimed to have discovered a particular mechanism within the code that allows the U.S. government to make changes to the website’s algorithm.
“When needed, the government can intervene with the Twitter algorithm. In fact, @TwitterEng (Twitter Engineering) even has a class for it – ‘GovernmentRequested,” Tey tweeted, including a link to the code on GitHub.
Upon purchasing Twitter for $44 billion in October, Musk vowed to increase transparency and loosen restrictions on certain speech and accounts that had been imposed by previous leadership. One of his goals was to make the algorithm open source for public viewing; he later said that “our ‘algorithm’ is overly complex & not fully understood internally,” and that “people will discover many silly things, but we’ll patch issues as soon as they’re found!”
In addition, Tey discovered that the algorithm takes such factors into account as following-to-follower ratio when determining which users to promote; users with a low number of followers but a high amount of followed accounts would be negatively affected.