Twitter releases some of its source code to the public
Twitter has released portions of its source code that determines how content is recommended on the platform. This move allows users and programmers to examine its operations and suggest modifications to the algorithm. The company posted the code on two repositories on Github, including the source code for several components of Twitter, such as the recommendations algorithm. The release of the code comes after owner Elon Musk’s suggestion that code transparency would increase trust and improve the product. It also addresses users’ and lawmakers’ concerns regarding social media algorithms’ selection of content.
Musk tweeted that third parties should have access to the open-sourced code to analyze it and determine what would likely be shown to users. He also stated that Twitter would update its recommendation algorithm based on user suggestions every 24 to 48 hours. Additionally, Musk and several Twitter employees participated in a Spaces audio chat feature session to solicit recommendations and answer questions about the platform’s code.
During the session, a participant asked why Twitter’s code appeared to categorize users as either Republicans or Democrats. A Twitter employee responded that it was an old feature that was not essential to the platform’s recommendation system, and the company is considering removing it. However, the repositories on Github do not contain the code that powers Twitter’s ad recommendations, and the company stated that it excluded code that could compromise user safety, privacy, or prevent child sexual abuse material on the platform.
Previously, parts of Twitter’s source code were leaked on Github. The code was taken down at Twitter’s request, and the company asked the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California to order Github to provide “all identifying information” related to the Github account that had posted the leaked code.