What Twitter’s changes mean for news organizations
The news-skewing algorithms of Twitter may be the most visible example of media bias, but it’s important to recognize that other news organizations are adopting similar tricks to push their own ideological views.
In a post published on Medium on the 26th of August 2014, Alex Howard, the Senior Creative Director for the UK’s Conservative Party, detailed how he’d used Twitter’s algorithm to increase the number of people who viewed his political news post.
On Twitter, this can be as simple as following your account to any number of links from users who appear to tweet in your news feeds. This could be very useful if, for example, you want more people to view a story published by an organisation like the Guardian, or to see an article about a particular topic shared by your followers.
In Howard’s case, following the Conservative Party Twitter account did not increase his followers, nor did it affect the total number of people viewed his post. What Twitter did, however, was change the amount of people who viewed the article to appear in his Twitter feed.
Twitter’s algorithm can be programmed to manipulate content, which makes it a useful tool for journalists to analyze. However, it’s important to be aware of how these tools can be used to create news articles that suit one’s own political views.
While the way Twitter’s algorithms work may differ from newsroom to newsroom, every news organization and editor should be aware of what it can do.
What is Twitter?
Twitter is a service for allowing people to send messages (called tweets) to other Twitter users who are using the service. Twitter accounts are like pages on the web. Users are able to post things of value like articles and news or tweets to their followers. In the US, news organizations use the service to share news and create content that is published for their followers.
The basic functionality of the service is very similar to a blog. In fact, a news organization’s Twitter account may just as easily be considered as a blog, just not in the traditional sense. In this sense, the term “Twitter” is commonly used as a short way of referring to the service.
The service’s ability to share information and create links in the form of tweets to users