Mar 31, 2023, 5:03pm EDT
techNorth America

Elon Musk's tweets get their own category in Twitter's algorithm

Elon Musk
REUTERS/Aly Song/File Photo/File Photo

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The News

The public release of Twitter's algorithm Friday showed that owner Elon Musk's tweets are put into their own category, and senior engineering officials at Twitter later confirmed that they did so to track the performance of his tweets.

Within Twitter's source code that powers its recommended "For You" page, "author_is_elon" is listed as its own category for tweets.

Other categories include tracking whether a user is Democrat, Republican, or a "Power User."

Twitter officials said the categories were only used to track the performance of tweets from different groups, though Musk has been accused of amplifying his own tweets on the platform.

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Know More

Twitter made its recommendation algorithm public on Github Friday, as Musk had previously promised to do. Musk and other Twitter executives then took questions during a live Twitter Spaces broadcast.

When a user asked about the Musk-specific category, Haofei Wang, a senior engineering manager at Twitter, replied, "That's only for stats tracking purposes."

The user followed up: "Isn’t it weird that you have four categories and one of them is Elon?”

Musk responded: "I don’t think it’s weird," adding that he hadn't previously known about the feature.

Earlier in the Q&A, executives said the labels for Democrats and Republicans are old categories that were used to track whether certain groups were being promoted more than others on the platform.

"That shouldn't be there," Musk said, ordering its removal from the code.

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Step Back

Platformer reported in February that Musk ordered Twitter's engineers to design a system "to ensure that Musk — and Musk alone — benefits from previously unheard-of promotion of his tweets to the entire user base."

It was sparked by Musk's apparent frustration that his tweet about the Super Bowl got less engagement than President Joe Biden's.

Musk has since tweeted memes about how frequently his tweets show up on users' "For You" page, even if they don't follow him.


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