Twitter admits its algorithm promotes right-wing politicians and media outlets
Twitter published a study revealing that its algorithm amplifies right-wing politicians and media outlets in the United States, Britain, Japan, Germany, France, Spain, and Canada.
At The Grayzone, I have extensively documented Twitter’s role in promoting promoting US state media, partnering with UK government-funded outlets to censor supposed “misinformation,” and hiring a right-wing Mexican political operative to censor leftists in Latin America.
Twitter similarly relies on Western government-financed regime-change groups to crack down on adversaries of Washington and Brussels, while suspending journalists and activists in Venezuela, Syria, Iran, Russia, and China who criticize Western foreign policy.
But that’s not all. The Silicon Valley social media corporation has now publicly acknowledged that it amplifies right-wing politicians and media outlets.
Twitter revealed this in a report it published on October 21. The internal study shows that leftist parties that challenge bipartisan orthodoxy are significantly hurt by Twitter’s algorithm.
Overall, it is center-right, neoliberal politicians, parties, and media outlets that are amplified the most on the platform.
Twitter analyzed millions of tweets written by politicians from April to August 2020 in the following seven countries: the United States, Britain, Japan, Germany, France, Spain, and Canada.
The company’s data shows that “tweets posted by accounts from the political right receive more algorithmic amplification than the political left.”
“Right-leaning news outlets,” the report added, “see greater algorithmic amplification on Twitter compared to left-leaning news outlets.”
In 2016, Twitter implemented new machine-learning algorithms that altered users’ timelines. Instead of containing a simple list of tweets from people you follow in chronological order, the algorithms amplify specific content from specific users and push them up in your timeline.
The social media company published the results of its study in a series of graphs, showing how, for the most part, right-wing political parties are more heavily amplified than left-leaning ones.
In the United States, the analysis only looked at Republicans and Democrats. And while the Democratic Party cannot by an objective metric be considered a left-wing party, and is in reality center-right or right-wing, Twitter’s study found that the even more extreme right-wing GOP is slightly more amplified on the platform.
But in other countries, Twitter analyzed tweets from politicians from numerous parties across the political spectrum.
The report shows how the Conservative Party in the United Kingdom is much more heavily promoted than all of Britain’s other mainstream parties.
The study likewise indicates that Spain’s right-wing Popular Party (PP) is very significantly amplified in the algorithm.
Canada’s center-left Bloc Québécois (BQ) is the most promoted party, but the Conservatives come in a close second place, much more heavily amplified than the center-left New Democratic Party (NDP) and centrist Liberals.
In its report, Twitter claimed Germany was an exception to this trend, but that is false. It is true that the center-left Social Democratic Party (SPD) is slightly more amplified than the center-right Christian Democratic Union (CDU) party, but the report shows that the other center-right, neoliberal, pro-corporate Free Democratic Party (FDP) is promoted above all of the other parties.
The left-wing Die Linke party and far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) are the hardest hit by the algorithm.
Other leftist parties are actively repressed by Twitter. La France Insoumise (LFI), led by socialist Jean-Luc Mélenchon, is the least-promoted party in France.
In Japan, the Communist Party (JCP) is most hurt by Twitter’s algorithm.