A Twitter study on 7 countries confirms a right bias except in Germany, Marketing & Advertising News, AND BrandEquity


A Twitter study in 7 countries confirms a bias to the right except in Germany. (File image: iStock)

In an ongoing study of the effects of machine learning (ML) on public conversation, Twitter has confirmed that its algorithms amplify right-wing political content.

“In six out of seven countries – all except Germany – tweets posted by accounts on the political right receive more algorithmic amplification than the political left when studied as a group,” Twitter wrote.

“Right-wing news organizations, as defined by independent organizations, see greater algorithmic amplification on Twitter compared to left-wing news organizations.”

As of 2016, Twitter users can choose between showing the tweets sorted by algorithm first in their news feed or viewing the most recent tweets in reverse chronological order.

“An algorithmic greeting timeline displays a stream of tweets from accounts we’ve chosen to follow on Twitter, along with recommendations from other content that Twitter thinks we might be interested in based on the accounts we interact with frequently,” tweets with which we interact, etc.

“As a result, what we see on our timeline is a function of how we interact with Twitter’s algorithmic system, as well as how the system is designed.”

The new research is based on tweets from elected members of the House of Commons in Canada, the French National Assembly, the German Bundestag, the House of Representatives in Japan, the Congress of Deputies of Spain, the House of Commons in the United Kingdom, and accounts of members of the United States House of Representatives and Senate, as well as news organizations, from April 1 to August 15, 2020.

The study was conducted by Ferenc Huszar (Twitter, University of Cambridge), Sofia Ira Ktena (now at DeepMind Technologies), Conor O’Brien (Twitter), Luca Belli (Twitter), Andrew Schlaikjer (Twitter) and Moritz Hardt ( UC Berkeley).

The questions probed were:

What algorithmic amplification does political content from elected officials receive in Twitter’s algorithmically ranked hospitality timeline compared to the reverse timeline? Does this amplification vary from one political party to another or within a political party?

Are certain types of political groups algorithmically amplified more than others? Are these trends consistent across countries?

Are some media more amplified by algorithms than others? Does algorithmic amplification of news media favor one side of the political spectrum more than the other?

Tweets about political content from elected officials, regardless of party or whether the party is in power, see algorithmic amplification compared to political content on the reverse timeline.

According to the report, the new feature was not a hit among users and since it was a limited experience, only a few random accounts were eligible to get the prompts.

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