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Twitter’s algorithm specifically tracks how Elon Musk’s tweets are doing
April 2, 2023

Twitter’s algorithm specifically tracks how Elon Musk’s tweets are doing

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Musk said he had no idea it was doing that!

Twitter has just released – as promised by owner Elon Musk – the source code for its recommendation algorithm, and there’s already been a very interesting discovery in the code.

After pouring through the code, multiple people found at least one really interesting portion of the code that shows Twitter is specifically tracking metrics for users broken up into four different groups:

  • ‘power_user’

  • ‘republican’

  • ‘democrat’


  • ‘elon’

That’s right, Twitter is specifically tracking how Musk’s tweets are performing, and it’s been coded right into Twitter’s algorithm.

Following the release of the algorithm, a Twitter Spaces audio chat was set up by the company. Musk and a few of Twitter’s developers took questions from listeners. A couple individuals brought this particular part of the algorithm up during the conversation.

‘This is the first time I’m seeing this,’ Musk said when asked about the code that tracked accounts in these four groups including one just for his tweets. ‘There’s a ton of stupid and embarrassing things being shown by making the code open source.’

While Musk claims he did not know about the metric tracking portion of the algorithm, he has previously admitted that Twitter was reviewing his account’s analytics. He did so in a tweet last month in order to push back against reports that he called an emergency Twitter meeting to boost his tweets in the algorithm, after a Super Bowl tweet from President Joe Biden performed better than Musk’s own tweet about the game.

When a guest speaker on the Twitter Space shared his concerns about grouping accounts into the categories ‘democrat’ and ‘republican,’ one of Twitter’s developers explained that this code was just for collecting stats. A note on the algorithm source code, however, states that the metric collecting was being used to ensure that changes to Twitter did not negatively affect any of these four groups.

According to Twitter’s own explanation of how this metric tracking is being used, if an algorithm change benefited an entire group of users, but negatively impacted the group made up solely of Elon Musk, it would not implement that algorithm change.

Zoë Schiffer of Platformer reported that Twitter actually removed part of the source code that affected the reach of Musk’s and other user’s tweets before releasing the algorithm to the public.

During the Spaces chat, Twitter explained that the metric tracking code was first developed into the algorithm years ago under the old Twitter regime. However, it was not explained why Musk’s tweets were specifically being tracked, a part of the code that seemingly would’ve been added much more recently. 

Musk did respond that Twitter would remove it.

‘It shouldn’t be there,’ Musk said. ‘Consider it gone.’

Musk also shared in a tweet following the Twitter Spaces chat that the company would make changes to the algorithm based on user feedback every one to two days.

Tweet may have been deleted

Elon Musk did deliver what he said he would on Thursday. The owner of Twitter previously promised that the social media platform would be more transparent. Musk said Twitter would share its recommendations algorithm on March 31 at 3pm EST, and the company did just that.

But, the release of this source code also comes days after Twitter forced Github to take down other parts of Twitter’s source code that was allegedly posted by a former employee without the company’s permission. So, clearly, there’s still plenty of Twitter that Musk still doesn’t want us to see.


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