Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey has finally admitted that the rumors surrounding the social media platforms bias algorithm are true. While standing before Congress on Wednesday, Dorsey called his own companies platform “unfair” due to the lack of transparency and accountability coming from the company.
Dorsey addressed one of the biggest complaints user’s have had over the past couple of years which is called “shadow-banning,” which hides users content from their followers feeds. Dorsey said this was not done on purpose, but that the shadow-banning might have happened due to Twitter’s “quality filter” which he said may have unfairly hurt users and their personal platform.
Dorsey did not say specifically who the “quality filter” had affected, but he did say that hundreds of thousands of Twitter accounts were unfairly targeted because of the algorithm. Since then the problem with the “quality filter” has both been addressed and fixed.
Although he did not say who was affected by the filter, many Republicans on Twitter have complained about how the filter has shown bias against those with right-leaning political views. Even the Department of Justice has pointed out that there is a political bias in how the social media giant works.
“We do not shadow-ban anyone based on political ideology,” Dorsey said, stating that his company did not make “any decisions” based off a users political ideology.
“Twitter does not use political ideology to make any decisions, whether related to ranking content on our service or how we enforce our rules,” Dorsey stated in the hearing.
Dorsey added that the “quality filter” is an extremely complex algorithm that has “hundreds” of factors that go into it. Depending on what your account looks like you can either be filtered out or receive a “down-rank.” A user’s Twitter followers can even affect your rank, depending on what they say on the platform, which Dorsey himself called “unfair.”
Dorsey’s congressional hearing was a highly anticipated political event, with Republicans saying it was about time for something to be done, and Democrats calling it a political sideshow.
During the hearing, Dorsey was told that the platform needs to have more straightforward rules when it comes to how they handle users and the rules that are applicable as well as a more transparent “quality filter.”
In August, Dorsey announced that Twitter wanted to change the way the platform is used in order to influence user behavior. He told the Washington Post that he was planning to build incentives into the platform in order to decrease “echo chambers.”
“Because they do express a point of view of what we want people to do — and I don’t think they are correct anymore,” he said.
After the hearing with the Senate Intelligence Committee ended on Wednesday, the Department of Justice then announced that the state attorney general would be holding a meeting to discuss tech giants “intentionally stifling the free exchange of ideas.”
“The Attorney General has convened a meeting with a number of state attorneys general this month to discuss a growing concern that these companies may be hurting competition and intentionally stifling the free exchange of ideas on their platforms,” said department spokesman Devin O’Malley in a statement Wednesday.