Elon Musk is working to change humanity’s future – from developing spacecraft to make life multiplanetary at SpaceX to accelerating the transition to sustainable energy at Tesla, and even developing a brain-computer interface at Neuralink – he goes above and beyond to improve the future and make it exciting. The Chief engineer has taken on a new challenge as the new leader of the Twitter social media network. “The reason I acquired Twitter is because it is important for the future of civilization to have a common digital town square where a wide range of beliefs can be debated in a healthy manner without resorting to violence,” he said. “There is currently great danger that social media will splinter into far right wing and far left wing echo chambers that generate more hate and divide our society,” Musk wrote in a message to Twitter advertisers on October 27, 2022.
Dear Twitter Advertisers pic.twitter.com/GMwHmInPAS— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) October 27, 2022
Regardless of his personal political opinions, Musk does want everyone's voice to be heard. Twitter is used by millions globally and it is a powerful tool that could either unite humanity to solve problems through civilized discourse or further divide. Since he acquired the network, he rolled out ‘Community Notes’ which aims to tackle misinformation by adding context under Tweet posts that provide the reader with accurate information curated by the Twitter community. This is part of Musk’s vision to transform Twitter into an accurate source for information. Long-term, the Community Notes feature has potential to encourage people to have respectful discourse based on facts rather than insults.
Musk also said Twitter should be “warm and welcoming to all” and enable users to choose the experience they want to have, therefore, the algorithm Twitter uses to showcase content on people’s feed should cater well to the specific user. However, this could be difficult to achieve without creating ‘echo chambers’ which is a challenge Twitter teams will work on. This week, Musk offered some insight into how the current Twitter algorithm works. “Instagram makes people depressed & Twitter makes people angry. Which is better?” Tweeted Musk. In response, a TESMANIAN journalist asked: “Will Twitter fix the algorithm so that it does not intentionally push dramatic/negative content too much? Feeds should have an equal amount of positive posts,” she wrote. “It should already feel better than the past,” replied Musk on January 15.
It should already feel better than the past— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) January 15, 2023
“Another question is whether it would be possible to design a social network that made people feel something good, like happy or imaginative, or whether they inevitably make people feel bad, and you only get to choose which bad,” wrote computer scientist Paul Graham. “Looking at the comments, this social network might be trending positively towards positivity. We will try to make that more the case,” replied Musk.
Looking at the comments, this social network might be trending positively towards positivity. We will try to make that more the case.— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) January 17, 2023
“Trashing accounts that you hate will cause our algorithm to show you more of those accounts, as it is keying off of your interactions,” Musk shared. “Basically saying if you love trashing *that* account, then you will probably also love trashing *this* account. Not actually wrong lol,” he Tweeted on January 16. A TESMANIAN journalist responded, noting that the algorithm “goes berzerk” when a user clicks “like” on a topic like sports, then it only pushes sports content “all the time” even when only liking very few tweets on the particular topic. “The recommendation algorithm will get much better and it will be open source,” replied Musk.
Trashing accounts that you hate will cause our algorithm to show you more of those accounts, as it is keying off of your interactions.— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) January 17, 2023
Basically saying if you love trashing *that* account, then you will probably also love trashing *this* account. Not actually wrong lol.
The recommendation algorithm will get much better and it will be open source— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) January 17, 2023
This “pushy” algorithm has been active since before Musk acquired Twitter. It recommends content based on liked interests (posts). Under Musk’s leadership, the Twitter engineers will work on the algorithm to improve the users’ experience. Making the algorithm’s code open-source will also offer transparency for the user to understand how Twitter works when recommending content. Being transparent with how Twitter selects content for users' home feed will build trust and enable Twitter to earn the public's respect. Musk previously said he would like to work on making Twitter Direct Messages (DMs) encrypted end-to-end, so that no one can have access to snoop into private conversations. This feature would be great and attract many more professional users to trust the social media platform.
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About the Author
Evelyn Janeidy Arevalo
Evelyn J. Arevalo joined Tesmanian in 2019 to cover news as a Space Journalist and SpaceX Starbase Texas Correspondent. Evelyn is specialized in rocketry and space exploration. The main topics she covers are SpaceX and NASA.