Twitter (and more) is a megaphone to the right. the company says so

A group of internal researchers found that material on the right is more amplified than material on the left. The debate (including institutional) over the impact of algorithms on society and how to regulate them continues

An algorithm in itself is not problematic. Algorithmic amplification – in this case, the process by which an algorithm learns to transmit a certain type of content higher than the standard – not even. But when a social platform becomes a fundamental component of democratic life, when messages from politicians and newspaper articles pass through it and the algorithm chooses which users to serve, the effects of unbalanced amplification are immediately apparent. it happens.

This was exactly what Twitter researchers were thinking when writing their latest report on the algorithmic amplification of politics on their platform. They conducted the study over a three-month period in 2020 in seven countries (Canada, France, Germany, Japan, the United Kingdom, Spain and the United States). They focused on posts from local politicians and major news outlets, excluding non-political content such as recipes and sports, and relied on two independent sites, all sides I advertising source mediaTo determine political leanings.

The authors were not intended to set the point of view of a certain politician or newspaper, but to understand the effects of algorithmic amplification on public discourse. And not only did they find that content published by current politicians is on average more amplified, but they also found that in all countries, except Germany, posts from the right receive more amplification than those from the left. The same goes for headings tilted to the right.

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“In this study, we identify what is happening: some political content on the platform has been amplified,” the researchers write. “Determining why these observed patterns occur is quite difficult, as they are a product of interactions between people and the platform.” Twitter seeks to identify and mitigate any imbalances, but “we need more root cause analysis to determine what and what needs to be changed to reduce adverse impacts” of the algorithmic selection system. .

Here the strictly empirical work of Twitter researchers borders on the essentially smoky domain of sociology. For many commentators, the reason is to be found in the right’s communication style, which is generally more emotionally charged and more prone to provoke a “gut” reaction. It has been widely demonstrated that high emotional impact content creates greater engagement and encourages the user to interact with it; Ale’The engagement This is actually one of the factors that drives up the value of content in the eyes of social algorithms.

The relationship between the right content and more The engagement It remains a (necessarily) generalist discourse. But the fact is, Twitter’s findings are in line with other studies and research. The same data from Facebook, analyzed through tools from Mark Zuckerberg’s social network, revealed that the best performing political content in America comes primarily from personalities and newspapers on the right side of the political spectrum. a trend that can be verified by observing getting 10 pages more The engagement Everyday in the states.

At the heart of the revelations of the effects of algorithmic amplification informer former facebook, Francis Haugen, which is touring between institutions on both sides of the Atlantic to contribute to the work of politicians at a critical time. Both the US and the EU are trying to regulate the activity of social platforms and some even envisage the “opening” of proprietary algorithms in the name of proposition transparency. But even Facebook has urged regulators to define clear rules, stating that a range of options with strong political value should be in the hands of institutions, not companies.

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About the Author: Piers Parker

Alcohol maven. Incurable pop culture specialist. Communicator. Gamer. Certified explorer.

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