Less Visible in Feeds: Twitter Looks Like Downgrading Ukraine Posts

Less visible in feeds
Twitter may downgrade Ukraine posts

Open source is a philosophy in software development. Twitter wants other programmers to look for errors or make improvements. After the publication of the source code for the recommendation algorithm, however, something else is noticeable.

With a “new era of transparency”, Twitter wants to give its users insights into the Timeline’s recommendation algorithm on its short message service. This should allow external programmers to search for errors or suggest improvements. Accordingly, many programmers have dealt with the source code provided on Github. A group of them found that posts related to the war in Ukraine dropped in the recommendation algorithm’s ranking – meaning users were less likely to see them in their feed.

In a long post on Twitter, the user Aakash Gupta published his analysis of several factors that promote or even reduce tweets and their reach. Likes, retweets and replies to tweets are beneficial, writes Gupta. The Blue Tick, which will soon be subject to a fee, also gives a “healthy boost” for your own contributions. According to Gupta, however, there are also a number of factors that would reduce the chance of visibility in the user feed. In addition to false information, hate speech and threats of violence, the “Ukraine crisis” also appears in the list.

Previously, many Twitter users involved with the Ukraine war had reported that their accounts had lost traffic since Elon Musk took over the platform in October last year. Musk’s stance on the Russian invasion is hard to pin down. On the one hand, the billionaire has provided Ukraine with nationwide Internet access with its Starlink satellite, which is also of military use. On the other hand, he had tweeted other ideas about the war to the death. In early October 2022, he proposed a “peace plan” that would have played into Russia’s hands.

A little later, users were asked whether “the will of the people” should decide whether confiscated regions remain part of Ukraine or become part of Russia. That even prompted the Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy to reply. He starts the Twitter poll: “Which Elon Musk do you like more? One who supports Ukraine” or “One who supports Russia”. Musk’s answer was that he feared a “massive escalation” of the war, which the would harm the whole world.

Musk has not yet commented on the downgrading of posts about Ukraine by the Twitter algorithm. Previously, he had only emphasized that the algorithm for recommendations is revised every 24 to 48 hours.

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