I quit Twitter at the start of December. Despite being an early adopter, joining in the same year as my son was born, 15 years later it’s gone from a force for good to a rage machine. I don’t want anything more to do with it.
The study looked at a sample of 4% of all Twitter users who had been exposed to the algorithm (46,470,596 unique users). It also included a control group of 11,617,373 users who had never received any automatically recommended tweets in their feeds.
The authors analysed the “algorithmic amplification” effect on tweets from 3,634 elected politicians from major political parties in seven countries with a large user base on Twitter: the US, Japan, the UK, France, Spain, Canada and Germany.
Algorithmic amplification refers to the extent to which a tweet is more likely to be seen on a regular Twitter feed (where the algorithm is operating) compared to a feed without automated recommendations.
The researchers found that in six out of the seven countries (Germany was the exception), the algorithm significantly favoured the amplification of tweets from politically right-leaning sources.
Overall, the amplification trend wasn’t significant among individual politicians from specific parties, but was when they were taken together as a group. The starkest contrasts were seen in Canada (the Liberals’ tweets were amplified 43%, versus those of the Conservatives at 167%) and the UK (Labour’s tweets were amplified 112%, while the Conservatives’ were amplified at 176%).