Elon Musk wants Twitter users to stop being manipulated, and in the process of telling them how it is done, he sparked a spat with Twitter founder Jack Dorsey.
Musk warned users they are being “manipulated” and offered a simple way to turn off Twitter’s algorithmic feed generator, according to Fox Business.
“Very important to fix your Twitter feed: 1. Tap home button. 2. Tap stars on upper right of screen. 3. Select ‘Latest tweets’. You are being manipulated by the algorithm in ways you don’t realize. Easy to switch back & forth to see the difference,” Musk tweeted.
This drew a reply from Twitter founder Jack Dorsey.
“it was designed simply to save you time when you are away from app for a while. pull to refresh goes back to reverse chron as well,” he said, abbreviating “chronological.”
Others then joined in the conversation, prompting Dorsey to go on the defensive.
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“no it wasn’t designed to manipulate. it was designed to catch you up and work off what you engage with. that can def have unintended consequences tho. which is why one should be able to choose if they use an algo or not, and which one. simple solution to all this,” Dorsey tweeted later.
“They simply try to put the tweets that you’re ‘most likely’ to engage with at the top. That’s it. Predictive based on what you like, retweet, reply to, search for, pause on, etc. it’s meant to be a convenience, nothing more. Again most important is being able to turn off,” Doresy wrote.
Musk then replied.
“I’m not suggesting malice in the algorithm, but rather that it’s trying to guess what you might want to read and, in doing so, inadvertently manipulate/amplify your viewpoints without you realizing this is happening,” Musk said in a follow-up tweet.
“Not to mention potential bugs in the code. Open source is the way to go to solve both trust and efficacy,” Musk continued.
Musk is currently following a tortuous trail in trying to buy Twitter.
On Friday, he said the deal was “on hold” after Twitter claimed that fewer than 5 percent of its users are bot accounts, a figure Musk believes in higher. Musk later said he is still committed to the deal.
Tim Draper, who has invested in SpaceX and Tesla and runs a venture capital firm putting $100 million into Musk’s bid for Twitter, said the deal will go through, according to the New York Post.
“I think so,” Draper said. “But I think he’s going to get a better deal because he found out that, whatever, two-thirds [of users] are bots or something.”
Musk’s initial offer for the company was $44 billion.
“I think he believes — and weirdly Jack Dorsey believed — in free speech,” Draper said.
“And he’s sort of terrified they are — Twitter is — sort of the arbiters of what people are allowed to say. And I think he just went in and said, ‘You know, I can buy it.’ And he just is going to. I think that’s basically what happened.”