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Elon Musk and Jack Dorsey debated Twitter’s algorithm, and Musk was actually right

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We’ve entered uncharted territory, folks. Elon Musk tweeted something that’s actually basically correct for once.

Musk, who may or may not buy Twitter soon (“may not” is currently in the lead), did what he always does on Saturday and posted some musings to his Twitter feed. Among them was a call for Twitter users to change their feeds from the algorithmically sorted “home” version to “latest,” where tweets are shown in reverse chronological order. In other words, the way Twitter was meant to be read all along, despite a recent attempt to force the home timeline on users.

Musk’s rationale is that the algorithm can subconsciously manipulate you. This is, to Musk’s credit, a pretty reasonable viewpoint backed up by research. A math equation that only shows you what it thinks you want to see will, over time, make it harder to accept other sources of information.  

Former Twitter founder Jack Dorsey seemingly took a little offense to the idea, saying the algorithmic feed was simply designed for people who don’t obsessively check Twitter. In a later reply downthread to another user, Dorsey admitted the algorithm can have “unintended consequences,” but maintained it wasn’t designed to manipulate users.

Again, in fairness to Musk, he didn’t say the algorithm was intended to manipulate, just that it happens. This is all an excuse for me to tell you that, on the most basic level, Musk is right about this: You need to switch your Twitter feed from “home” to “latest” pronto. Don’t let the machine feed tweets to you. 

The only reasonable way to sort internet content is by chronological order. Time doesn’t manipulate, at least not as easily as these algorithms do.

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