The famous Facebook whistleblower Frances Haugen called on Elon Musk to make Twitter algorithm public.
In a special edition of NBC News' Meet the Press, Haugen invited Musk to make Twitter’s algorithms open source for everyone to see.
Her invitation to Musk came following a tweet he made in November last year, stating that he wants Twitter to be “a trusted digital town square” where people meet to discuss topics openly, and “where matters vital to the future of humanity are debated.”
“One of the most important things Elon Musk could do to prove that he wants to have the public square is he could publish the algorithms,” she said to journalist Chuck Todd.
It’s not the first time Musk said that Twitter should tolerate a broader range of views, so long as no laws are violated. But it’s also not the first time there were mentions of Twitter going open source. There were calls to make it public before, by none other than Musk himself.
While part of Twitter’s technology is already open source, Musk was specifically calling on algorithms that control a user’s Twitter feed to go public.
Weeks before offering to buy Twitter, Musk polled other users of the social media platform, asking whether they would support the algorithms going public. Whopping 82.7% voted “yes” to his “Twitter algorithm should be open source” poll.
Now, Haugen is calling on Musk to deliver on (one of many) promises to make Twitter a marketplace of open exchange of ideas.
“Open source it,” she said. “He'd have more help – it'd be cheaper for him. It'd be more profitable.”
It’s no mere coincidence that Haugen mentioned profits. After all, the “town square” can’t exist without some modicum of moderation, and Musk has just recently finished laying off the majority of Twitter employees, content moderators included.
His “digital town square” returns “power to the people” and reignites dialogue that, according to Musk, no longer exists, and cannot operate without significant investments. If Musk accepted her invitation to open source the algorithm, he could have his “town square” sooner rather than later.
After all, Haugen is best known for insisting on transparency. A former product manager on Facebook's civic integrity team, Haugen exposed Facebook’s misguided decision-making, which led to “more division, more harm, more lies, more threats, and more combat.”