Has Twitter violated the principle of non-discrimination? Is the manipulation of the algorithm by a ‘reach booster’ for the tweets of new owner Elon Musk a violation of the German media law?
Bavarian media authority BLM is examining these questions with regard to Twitter Germany in order to initiate, if necessary, regulatory proceedings for discrimination.
According to a report by US newsletter Platformer, Twitter CEO Elon Musk issued an instruction to “tweak” the algorithm so that his own tweets regularly achieve the highest reach. This is reason for the watchdog to examine whether this manipulation can also be observed at the German Twitter offshoot and thus whether the regulatory requirements for media intermediaries are violated. BLM is the responsible media authority for Twitter’s German business.
“In the case of a possible manipulation of the algorithm, the German media law with its prohibition of discrimination, which is supposed to prevent the deliberate prioritisation of certain journalistic-editorial content, becomes enforceable. Twitter is of enormous importance, especially for political communication. Ensuring diversity of opinion and thus also a free democratic dialogue is a task that the media authorities take very seriously in view of the power of media intermediaries to influence opinion,” stressed BLM President Dr Thorsten Schmiege.
According to a study published by the media authorities in 2022, intermediaries are the most important source of information for political messages for 43% of those surveyed – a figure that, according to BLM, shows how decisive Twitter can be in an election campaign.