Mark Cuban says Twitter’s new algorithms are designed to help one man only: Elon Musk

Business

Mark Cuban is still frustrated with Elon Musk’s changes to Twitter.

This time, he’s accusing Musk of rigging the platform to promote his own tweets and points of view. Last week, Cuban wrote he did his own deep dive into how Twitter determines who sees what posts. At the core of the issue, Cuban said, is that the site’s algorithm highly ranks tweets that your followers interact with.

That metric is a good way to see popular posts. But it’s very convenient for Musk, who as Cuban points out, is the most followed person on Twitter.

“The largest Twitter account has the greatest reach,” Cuban wrote. “So who @elonmusk engages with on Twitter has an ENORMOUS impact on what an indeterminable number of people see in their For You Timelines.”

Those algorithms are more influential than before because of Twitter’s new “For You” timeline, Cuban said. Formerly, the platform allowed users to choose how often they saw tweets from people they didn’t follow. Now, when users open the site, they automatically see a “For You” timeline, which is comprised of “50% in network and 50% out of network” posts, according to Twitter.

There’s still a feed that only shows tweets from accounts you personally follow, but now it’s one window over. By Cuban’s logic, the added click necessary to take users there will keep most of them on the “For You” timeline. That will make the most followed Twitter accounts, like Musk’s, more influential.

A mostly one-sided Twitter feud

This is just the latest in a string of complaints Cuban has lobbied against Twitter. Last month, he told CNBC Make It that despite paying for the platform’s $8 per month subscriber program Twitter Blue, he was losing 800 to 1,000 followers each day.

Cuban’s tweets complaining about Musk had gone publicly unanswered — until last week. That was when the Dallas Mavericks owner wrote that it is “disingenuous to say Twitter is the home of free speech” because Musk chooses to “put his thumb on the scale.”

Musk, a self-proclaimed “free-speech absolutist,” responded: “Suggestions for improvement are welcome.”

Cuban replied, telling Musk Twitter should revert to allowing users to have control of their own timelines. “Allow people to choose whether the For You is shown or hidden, or to allow the % of in network Vs out of network tweets shown in For You to be user-controlled,” Cuban wrote.

Musk hasn’t publicly answered Cuban or responded to CNBC Make It’s requests for comment.  

Cuban still has 8.8 million followers, but said he’s worried the changed algorithm will affect how he promotes his online pharmacy Cost Plus Drugs.

“I figured I was/am on some Twitter s— list that doesn’t show me to new or existing users as a possible follow,” Cuban told CNBC Make It in an email. “I thought maybe, by paying the annual contract, that would change. It didn’t.”

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