wordpress blog stats
Connect with us

Hi, what are you looking for?

Twitter’s own research says that its algorithms play favourites with the political right

Twitter’s findings confirm what many have been warning about i.e. the amplification of right-wing views on the platform.


“In six out of seven countries — all but Germany — Tweets posted by accounts from the political right receive more algorithmic amplification than the political left when studied as a group,” Twitter said in its blog post detailing the findings of its analysis of whether recommendation algorithms amplify political content. The study examined tweets from elected officials of seven countries— Canada, France, Germany, Japan, Spain, the United Kingdom, and the United States. Tweets from news outlets were also studied in this exercise.

The social media platform compared the political content on the Home timeline and the latest tweets section. 

Twitter’s study revealed that its algorithms amplify political content from elected politicians regardless of which party they belong to at the time. It also found that “right-leaning news outlets see greater algorithmic amplification on Twitter compared to left-leaning news outlets”. However, as highlighted in the paper, these third-party ratings make their own, independent classifications and as such the results of the analysis may vary depending on which source is used.

Twitter’s research confirms the dangers of social media including death in several countries and may shape the conversation around political content on social media. 

How did Twitter conduct this study?

Researchers Luca Belli and Rumman Chowdhury started with the following questions: 

Advertisement. Scroll to continue reading.
  1. How much algorithmic amplification does political content from elected officials receive in Twitter’s algorithmically ranked Home timeline versus in the reverse chronological timeline? 
  2. Are some types of political groups algorithmically amplified more than others?
  3. Does this amplification vary across political parties or within a political party? Are these trends consistent across countries?
  4. Are some news outlets amplified more by algorithms than others? Does news media algorithmic amplification favor one side of the political spectrum more than the other?

They analysed millions of tweets from April 1 to August 15, 2020, from Twitter accounts in seven countries to find answers to these questions. Belli and Chowdhury said they used public, third-party sources to identify political affiliation of the elected leaders. They also clarified that the content of the tweets was not used to “infer political views”.

Moreover, analysis was performed on millions of tweets containing links to articles shared by people on Twitter. The media bias ratings of the news outlets were ascertained based on data from two independent organisations – AllSides and Ad Fontes Media.

How will Twitter address issues emerging out of these findings?

Twitter did not announce any steps to mitigate the inequities put forth by the research.

“Establishing why these observed patterns occur is a significantly more difficult question to answer as it is a product of the interactions between people and the platform,” read the post by the platform. Simply put, Twitter does not know why the algorithm favors a particular political ideology.

Twitter, however, did assert that “algorithmic amplification is not problematic by default – all algorithms amplify”. The company said it was concerned if certain tweets received preferential treatment not as a result of the way in which users interacted, but because of the inherent code of the algorithm.

Root cause analysis is required in order to determine what, if any, changes are required to reduce adverse impacts by our Home timeline algorithm — Twitter in its blog post 

Will Twitter make this data available to other researchers? 

The platform said that it is making aggregated datasets available for third-party researchers on request but added that privacy concerns make it difficult to provide access to the raw data.   

The ML Ethics, Transparency and Accountability (META) is conceiving ways, including a partnership, to leverage privacy-preserving technology to provide this data responsibly.

Advertisement. Scroll to continue reading.

You can read the entire paper here.

Also read:

Have something to add? Post your comment and gift someone a MediaNama subscription.

Written By

MediaNama’s mission is to help build a digital ecosystem which is open, fair, global and competitive.



India and US come to terms on how to deal with the equalisation levy in light of the impending Global Tax Deal.


Find out how people’s health data is understood to have value and who can benefit from that value.


The US and other countries' retreat from a laissez-faire approach to regulating markets presents India with a rare opportunity.


When news that Walmart would soon accept cryptocurrency turned out to be fake, it also became a teachable moment.


The DSCI's guidelines are patient-centric and act as a data privacy roadmap for healthcare service providers.

You May Also Like


Google has released a Google Travel Trends Report which states that branded budget hotel search queries grew 179% year over year (YOY) in India, in...


135 job openings in over 60 companies are listed at our free Digital and Mobile Job Board: If you’re looking for a job, or...


Rajesh Kumar* doesn’t have many enemies in life. But, Uber, for which he drives a cab everyday, is starting to look like one, he...


By Aroon Deep and Aditya Chunduru You’re reading it here first: Twitter has complied with government requests to censor 52 tweets that mostly criticised...

MediaNama is the premier source of information and analysis on Technology Policy in India. More about MediaNama, and contact information, here.

© 2008-2021 Mixed Bag Media Pvt. Ltd. Developed By PixelVJ

Subscribe to our daily newsletter
Your email address:*
Please enter all required fields Click to hide
Correct invalid entries Click to hide

© 2008-2021 Mixed Bag Media Pvt. Ltd. Developed By PixelVJ