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    Twitter posts the code it claims determines which tweets people see, and why / ArsTechnica · Yesterday - 22:24

Section of Twitter's source code, displayed at an angle

Enlarge / Twitter has posted what it states is the code used by its algorithm to recommend tweets to its users.

Twitter has made good on one of CEO Elon Musk's many promises , posting on a Friday afternoon what it claims is the code for its tweet recommendation algorithm on GitHub .

The code, posted under a GNU Affero General Public License v3.0 , contains numerous insights as to what factors make a tweet more or less likely to show up in users' timelines.

In a blog post accompanying the code release , Twitter's engineering team (under no particular byline) notes that the system for determining which "top Tweets that ultimately show up on your device's For You timeline" is "composed of many interconnected services and jobs." Each time a Twitter home screen is refreshed, Twitter pulls "the best 1,500 Tweets from a pool of hundreds of millions," the post states.

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    Twitter obtains subpoena forcing GitHub to unmask source-code leaker / ArsTechnica · 3 days ago - 15:24

Twitter's bird logo is displayed on the the outside of its San Francisco headquarters building.

Enlarge / Twitter headquarters in San Francisco on February 8, 2023. (credit: Getty Images | Anadolu Agency )

Twitter has obtained a subpoena compelling GitHub to provide identifying information on a user who posted portions of Twitter's source code.

Twitter on Friday asked the US District Court for the Northern District of California to issue a subpoena to GitHub . A court clerk signed off on the subpoena yesterday.

GitHub user "FreeSpeechEnthusiast" posted Twitter source code in early January, shortly after Elon Musk bought Twitter and laid off thousands of workers. Twitter reportedly suspects the code leaker is one of its many ex-employees.

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    Report: Twitter secretly boosted accounts instead of treating everyone equally / ArsTechnica · 4 days ago - 18:07

Report: Twitter secretly boosted accounts instead of treating everyone equally

Enlarge (credit: Anadolu Agency / Contributor | Anadolu )

It looks like the Twitter experience is about to change for nearly everybody on the platform—even those who buy into CEO Elon Musk’s Twitter Blue subscription service.

On Monday, Musk tweeted that after April 15, “only verified accounts will be eligible to be in For You recommendations” and eligible to vote in polls (which can be a way for accounts to boost engagement). Musk claims this is “the only realistic way to address” an otherwise “hopeless losing battle” with “advanced AI bot swarms taking over” the platform.

These changes will apparently take effect two weeks after Musk said Twitter will begin “un-verifying” legacy blue checked accounts . That makes it likely that soon some of Twitter’s most beloved and trusted accounts will no longer be promoted widely to users via the “For You” tab if they refuse to pay $8 a month to get access to subscriber benefits.

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    Musk says Twitter value is down to $20 billion, calls firm an “inverse startup” / ArsTechnica · 5 days ago - 19:15

Elon Musk's Twitter profile displayed on a phone screen in front of a Twitter logo and a fake stock graph with an arrow pointing down.

Enlarge (credit: Getty Images | NurPhoto )

Elon Musk told Twitter employees that the company is now worth about $20 billion, less than half the amount he paid for it. The New York Times reported that Musk provided the $20 billion figure in an email sent to staff on Friday to announce a new stock compensation program.

"According to Mr. Musk's email about the new stock compensation program, Twitter employees will receive stock in X Corporation, the holding company he used to buy the company. Those awards will be granted under the $20 billion valuation. Mr. Musk also said in the email that he believed Twitter could someday be worth $250 billion," the NYT article said.

Musk "warned workers that Twitter remained in a precarious financial position and, at one point, had been four months away from running out of money," the article said. Musk's email reportedly said bankruptcy was averted because of the "radical changes" he implemented—like staff cuts that reduced the company headcount from about 7,500 to under 2,000 .

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    Twitter to un-verify people who don’t pay $8/month starting on April Fools’ Day / ArsTechnica · Friday, 24 March - 17:02

Close-up view of the official Twitter Blue account with its verified checkmark.

Enlarge (credit: Getty Images | NurPhoto )

Four and a half months after the chaotic rollout of paid checkmarks , Elon Musk's Twitter is following through on a plan to remove verification from individual accounts that don't pay $8 per month for a Twitter Blue subscription.

"Starting April 1, we'll be winding down our legacy Verification program and accounts that were verified under the previous criteria (active, notable, and authentic) will not retain a blue checkmark unless they are subscribed to Twitter Blue," a Twitter FAQ says. Twitter also stopped accepting applications for verification checkmarks under the old criteria.

"To keep your blue checkmark on Twitter, individuals can sign up for Twitter Blue here ," Twitter said yesterday. "Organizations can sign up for Verified Organizations here ."

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    AI platform allegedly bans journalist over fake Trump arrest images / ArsTechnica · Wednesday, 22 March - 17:05

AI-generated photo faking Donald Trump's possible arrest, created by Eliot Higgins using Midjourney v5.

Enlarge / AI-generated photo faking Donald Trump's possible arrest, created by Eliot Higgins using Midjourney v5. (credit: @EliotHiggins on Twitter )

Yesterday, about 50 AI-generated images imagining what former President Donald Trump’s arrest would look like spread across Twitter. The images caused confusion for some users because the Midjourney v5 engine used to create them generates such realistic-looking content .

Today, the Midjourney user behind the images—Bellingcat founder Eliot Higgins— alleged to Buzzfeed News that he was banned from Midjourney over the images. Buzzfeed also reported that Midjourney has banned the word “arrest” from being used in text prompts to generate images.

Midjourney has not yet confirmed the ban. An Ars test indicates that prompts using Donald Trump’s name also seem to be blocked on the engine, generating instead an error message saying that the prompt was blocked because “it may conflict with our content policy.” We got the same error message when we used prompts including other Trump family names and all the presidents’ names. However, other celebrity names, like former NFL player Tom Brady, are still seemingly acceptable in prompts.

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    AI-faked images of Donald Trump’s imagined arrest swirl on Twitter / ArsTechnica · Tuesday, 21 March - 16:30

AI-generated photo faking Donald Trump's possible arrest, created by Eliot Higgins using Midjourney v5.

Enlarge / AI-generated photo faking Donald Trump's possible arrest, created by Eliot Higgins using Midjourney v5. (credit: @EliotHiggins on Twitter )

As the world waits to see if former President Donald Trump will actually be indicted today over hush-money payments to porn star Stormy Daniels, AI-generated images began circulating on Twitter imagining what that arrest would look like. Showing Trump resisting arrest and being dragged off by police, the realistic but very fake photos have already been viewed by millions.

“Making pictures of Trump getting arrested while waiting for Trump's arrest,” tweeted Eliot Higgins , who is the founder and creative director of Bellingcat, an independent international collective of researchers, investigators, and citizen journalists.

In a tweet , Higgins confirmed that he used the impressively realistic AI engine Midjourney v5 to generate the fake images .

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    Antisemitism on Twitter has more than doubled since Elon Musk took over / ArsTechnica · Tuesday, 21 March - 13:26

A Twitter logo on a phone with a shattered screen.

Enlarge (credit: Getty Images | Thomas Trutschel )

In the days after Elon Musk took over Twitter in October 2022, the social media platform saw a “surge in hateful conduct,” which its then safety chief put down to a “focused, short-term trolling campaign.” New research suggests that when it comes to antisemitism, it was anything but.

Rather, antisemitic tweets have more than doubled over the months since Musk took charge, according to research that I and colleagues at tech firm CASM Technology and the Institute for Strategic Dialogue think tank conducted. Between June and October 26, 2022, the day before Twitter’s acquisition by Musk, there was a weekly average of 6,204 tweets deemed “plausibly antisemitic”—that is, where at least one reasonable interpretation of the tweet falls within the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s definition of the term as “a certain perception of Jews, which may be expressed as hatred towards Jews.”

But from October 27 until February 9, 2023, the average was 12,762—an increase of 105 percent. In all, a total of 325,739 tweets from 146,516 accounts were labeled as “plausibly antisemitic” over the course of our study, stretching from June 1, 2022 to February 9, 2023.

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