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Twitter's research shows its algorithms boost tweets from the right

An in-house study finds that Twitter's algorithms amplify tweets from the political right more than they do the left, but it's unclear why.

Sarah Tew/CNET

Twitter says its own research shows that its algorithms amplify tweets from the political right more than they do those from the left.

In a blog post Thursday, Twitter said the research shows that tweets from right-leaning politicians and groups both receive more amplification than those from their left-leaning counterparts. In addition, right-leaning news outlets see greater algorithmic amplification on Twitter compared to left-leaning news outlets.

The research didn't explain why tweets from the right are favored by the algorithms. But Twitter says that by sharing the research it hopes it can "help spark a productive conversation" with the broader research community about possible theories.

The report contradicts long-time criticisms from Republicans who claim that both Twitter and Facebook actively suppress conservative speech. Both companies have repeatedly denied the accusations.

Twitter conducted the research by analyzing millions of tweets sent from April 1, 2020, to Aug. 15, 2020, from accounts operated by elected officials in seven countries. It used public, third-party sources to identify political party affiliation. It didn't use tweeted content to attempt to guess the political views of elected officials.

Amplified tweets are tweets mixed in to a user's home timeline along with tweets from the accounts the users chooses to follow.  Twitter says they're content recommendations based on accounts the user interacts with frequently, tweets they engage with and other information.