Elon Musk says Twitter will use AI to detect manipulation of public opinion

The algorithm for recommending tweets will be made public on March 31

Elon Musk said making Twitter's recommendations code public is an effort to earn user trust. AFP
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Twitter chief executive Elon Musk has said that the company will use artificial intelligence to curb manipulation of public opinion on the platform in what could be a move to rein in misinformation on the social media network.

The billionaire, who bought Twitter for $44 billion in October, did not elaborate on how the San Francisco-based company plans to do this, but he said in a tweet on Saturday that it would happen “in the months ahead”.

Twitter did not respond to a request for comment from The National.

It is unclear whether this has any connection with Mr Musk's reported assembling of a team, which includes a former engineer at a unit of Google parent Alphabet, to develop a rival to OpenAI's text-based chatbot ChatGPT.

He was said to be in discussions with Igor Babuschkin, who recently left DeepMind AI, to lead a group of artificial intelligence researchers in the effort, The Information reported last week.

Mr Musk, the world's second-wealthiest person, who has a net worth of $169 billion, has more than 131.8 million followers on Twitter and is known to be a prolific and controversial user of the platform.

He has promoted free speech on Twitter, sparking concerns that the network might spiral out of control with fake news and disinformation.

However, he has also made moves to address these fears, including revamping Twitter's Blue check verification system. His latest tweet is apparently aimed at further assuaging these worries.

His intention to use AI comes after he drew criticism for allegedly tweaking Twitter's recommendation algorithm in order to extend the reach of his tweets.

Separately, Mr Musk said Twitter will be making the algorithm for recommending tweets public on March 31, a long-guarded secret that would allow users to scrutinise how it works.

The move is aimed at earning user trust, Mr Musk said in an earlier tweet.

“Providing code transparency will be incredibly embarrassing at first, but it should lead to rapid improvement in recommendation quality. Most importantly, we hope to earn your trust,” he tweeted.

Revealing Twitter's recommendation code to the public could be a first step in Mr Musk's vision of transforming the platform into a decentralised network, similar to Mastodon, the social network created by a German developer that uses an open-source code.

Opening Twitter's code will allow the public to inspect and scrutinise the social media company's proprietary software, pitch their ideas to developers on how to change Twitter's code or even use the algorithm in their own applications.

Mr Musk's vision of emulating Mastodon gained traction last month when he said that Twitter's algorithm could be opened up to the public.

His tweet on February 21 implied that the move could have happened in the last week of February or first week of March. His tweet on Saturday is the first development since his original message on opening up the algorithm.

Updated: March 18, 2023, 1:07 PM