Elon Musk to reveal Twitter's secret algorithm for recommending tweets

Musk tweeted people will discover many silly things, but we’ll patch issues as soon as they’re found

Twitter owner Elon Musk. AFP/File
Twitter owner Elon Musk. AFP/File

SAN FRANCISCO: Elon Musk, the owner of Twitter, has announced his plan to release the closely-guarded algorithm used to recommend tweets to users.

Musk confirmed in a tweet of his own that the code would be made "open source" by the end of March.

The algorithm, which has been kept secret for a long time, will now be available for anyone to access and scrutinise. This move is expected to lead to significant improvements in the quality of tweet recommendations, according to Musk.

"People will discover many silly things, but we’ll patch issues as soon as they’re found!" Musk tweeted.

"Providing code transparency will be incredibly embarrassing at first, but it should lead to rapid improvement in recommendation quality."

Musk contended that the recommendation algorithm used at Twitter is overly complicated and not fully understood inside the company.

"We’re developing a simplified approach to serve more compelling tweets, but it’s still a work in progress," Musk said.

Making the code open source would mean developers, including aspiring rivals, would be able to put their own spins on the algorithm, according to a foundation for the software ecosystem.

Since billionaire Musk’s takeover of Twitter in October, the platform has suffered outages, layoffs and seen advertisers flee over the lack of content moderation.

But so far no major alternative to Twitter has emerged, leaving global leaders, politicians, celebrities and companies little choice than to continue to communicate via the platform.

After several rounds of layoffs saw more than two thirds of employees let go, Twitter is running on a skeleton staff, allegedly leaving it vulnerable to outages as well as disinformation and harmful content.

Musk has tried to wean Twitter from advertising and promote subscriptions as a new way to bring in cash -- an idea that Meta is testing as well -- but so far the results have been disappointing.

Facebook owner Meta revealed early this month that it is working on a new "text sharing" social media network, in a project seen as a potential rival to embattled Twitter.

"We’re exploring a standalone, decentralized social network for sharing text updates," Meta, which also owns Instagram, said in a short emailed statement.

"We believe there’s an opportunity for a separate space where creators and public figures can share timely updates about their interests," the statement added.