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Twitter’s algorithms are more likely to amplify right-wing politicians than left-wing ones because their tweets generate more outrage, according to a trio of researchers from New York University’s Center for Social Media and Politics.

Last week, the social media platform’s ML Ethics, Transparency and Accountability (META) unit published research that showed users were more likely to see posts from right-wing elected officials across six countries – including the UK and the US – than their left-wing counterparts. Twitter said it didn’t know why its algorithms behaved this way.

Political scientists from NYU, however, have been conducting their own research into Twitter’s algorithms and they believe it’s because tweets from conservative politicians are more controversial and attract more attention. They have analyzed the number of retweets from tweets made by Congress members of the Republican and Democratic party since January 2021 and found the same pattern Twitter’s engineers did.

“Why would Twitter’s algorithms promote conservative politicians? Our research suggests an unlikely but plausible reason: It’s because they get dunked on so much,” they wrote in a op-ed in the Washington Post. Twitter users are more likely to react and retweet their posts, which means these posts are more likely to end up on people’s timelines.

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