How is a Tweet’s Engagement Driven by Twitter?

Users of the Elon Musk-run Twitter may have noticed lately their feeds taking the same form as the Internet at large. Threads like “7 Ways to Boost Productivity with ChatGPT” with tens of thousands of likes each now compete for attention when you log on.

How did it get to this point? Twitter’s new algorithm for engagement has been released to the world and has the answers you seek.

How Twitter Calculates Engagement for Your Posts

One of Musk’s early polls asked users whether the algorithm for determining a tweet’s reach should be public. Over 80% of voters, some 67,000 people, voted yes.

Users’ initial engagement towards a tweet drive its reach. Each like boosts a tweet’s reach by 30x. A retweet gives only a 20x boost and a reply just 1x. 

So replies are far less important than one might think. This is perhaps to stop the engagement-baiting posts that have proliferated on Facebook (often a simple question in a large image upload), which Cory Doctorow aptly dubbed “boomer bait.”

Links to images or video also give you a nice boost. Each doubles the reach of a standard text post.

On the other side of the equation, dropping a link to an external site, like a news article, effectively gets you down-voted. Twitter considers it likely to be spam.

Other, non-surprising things harm a tweet’s reach. These include whether a user sees a tweet and then mutes or blocks you.

There are some parameters for stopping the spread of misinformation. These come into effect if a post is tagged as “MedicalMisinfo” or “Hateful”, although it isn’t clear how that happens.

Another spam-directed measure that harms tweets is the “unknown language trigger.” If a tweet includes a word that isn’t in one of the languages your account is set to, your post gets a 0.01 reach multiplier.

Last but not least, Twitter clusters your profile with those of other users with similar interests. If your post gets a reply from someone outside that cluster, it is actually downgraded, as it’s thought to be less relevant to your usual networks. This is called an “out of network” penalty.

So the internet’s famous “‘echo chamber” effect continues in full force under Musk Twitter.

Follow Christian on Twitter for more news updates.

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