On March 31, Twitter opened up its content feed source code, which is the code referenced to recommend tweets to a user.
This is the first time in history that a social-media platform has done anything like this.
For some context, open source is “denoting software for which the original code is made freely available and may be redistributed and modified,” according to Dictionary.com.
In 2009, Microsoft began going open source with some of its products and then saw a significant increase in said products' adoption.
On March 31 in Twitter Spaces, Twitter owner Elon Musk said: “The analog, here, that we’re aspiring to is the great example of Linux as an open source operating system. One can, in theory, discover many exploits for Linux. In reality, what happens is the community identifies and fixes those exploits.”
After a very publicly documented bumpy transition to Elon Musk ownership, it is estimated that about 50% of Twitter’s advertisers stayed on the new Twitter train.
One significant platform change occurred last December when the Twitter Trust and Safety Council was dissolved.
But does the transparency of open-source code make the Twitter Trust and Safety Council a moot point for Twitter? Twitter stated in a blog post that opening up the content feed source code was a “first step to be[ing] more transparent”.
In the same Twitter blog post, the intention of going open-source was also stated as to “[prevent] risk to Twitter itself and people on the platform.”
This might be why Twitter’s ad recommendations code was not opened up too. All code change suggestions submitted so far by the public haven’t been made public just yet.
Perhaps Musk is actually looking to Twitter’s history to realize its full potential now.
In Twitter’s early days, in 2007, a growth spurt in user base overloaded the system servers, resulting in many errors. The company began creating features based off of this new large user base’s behavior, such as using the “@” symbol to identify another user or the “#” symbol to categorize topics of tweets.
Since the “Home Mixer” -- the Twitter algorithm that recommends tweets -- opened its doors last month, enough users haven’t flocked back to the blue bird just yet to analyze their collective influence. But in the March 31st Twitter Spaces session, Musk stated that “we’re very open to what would improve the user experience.”
Is this new Twitter Musk’s move toward truly “elevating citizenship journalism”?
With Twitter’s content feed source code being open, anyone can change it. Is this crowd sourcing change work?
Anyone could now move the Twitter algorithm in a positive direction for all of society, in theory.
As the saying goes, “time will tell.” So check back on Twitter’s latest algorithm during lunchtime.