tech

How many bots are on Twitter? The question is difficult to answer and misses the point

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By Kai-Cheng Yang and Filippo Menczer

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The authors are the one missing the point.

The point Musk was trying to make with the number of bot accounts has nothing to do with accounts "spreading covid misinformation", it has to do with the number of accounts that are of actual human, accounts that are of business and accounts that are nether of humans, nor business, but are just automatized accounts.

It has to do with, how many ACTUAL Twitter users there are. If the company claims that they have a number of users, which is an statistic used when promoting Twitter for investment, but that number is mostly bot accounts, they are not in the interest of investors, or in this case of Elon Musk.

As far as I can tell, Musk wanted to know the number of actual users, and felt the estimated given by the Twitter board misrepresented this number.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

I agree with you. When we consider the IPOs and evaluation of any social media company or data company, we consider how many users there really are. If 20% of the users are fake or bots, then it obviously impacts the evaluation of the company. The Twitter board hasn't exactly been the most transparent group of individuals as well.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

Twitter is a leftist cesspool anyways. Let it burn.

-2 ( +3 / -5 )

Twitter is a leftist cesspool anyways.

Then why are all the right-wingers on Twitter?

Let it burn.

I agree. Twitter is useless.

4 ( +5 / -1 )

quote: However, it is unclear what Musk has in mind.

A discount, I suspect.

My account on an online service was recently determined to be spam/fake/bot-based and blocked. As it has a quantity of original research papers, I'm not sure how their software determined that. I sent them a very stroppy e-mail of the sort that bots presumably do not. It is back online again.

So bot/fake/spam detection is inaccurate - overstating the problem as well as understating it.

quote: misses the point of quantifying the harm of online abuse and manipulation by inauthentic accounts.

How do you quantify 'harm'? I've seen just about everything it is possible to see online and am unlikely to suffer 'harm' whatever I now see. Water off a duck's back. The only online 'harm' I have suffered recently online is having the account I mentioned above temporarily blocked and being censored by moderators or moderated by censors. I don't trust anything I read online unless it comes from a source with some credibility behind it, and neither should you.

There are however people out there who consider themselves to have suffered 'harm' if they think someone looked at them wrong, 'dissed' them, or spilled their pint. 'Harm' is in the eye of the beholder, and anyone employed by a university should be intelligent enough to recognise that, and honest enough to mention it every time they write on the subject - unlike politicians, who are using it as a weapon to censor the net.

quote: this would do little to solve these problems.

The 'problems' being the ability of ordinary people to express unpopular opinions, which just happens to be baked into the US constitution - something that the academics who wrote this may have sworn to defend on numerous occasions.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

As a buyer of a social media site, the number of real vs fake users is very pertinent to the purchase.

The question here is whether Musk should have done his due diligence prior to his current agreement, or whether he's justified in doing it now. Legally, he may have tied himself into the deal as-is, regardless of how many users are bots, and should have done his due diligence prior to the current agreement.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

The point Musk was trying to make with the number of bot accounts has nothing to do with accounts "spreading covid misinformation", it has to do with the number of accounts that are of actual human, accounts that are of business and accounts that are nether of humans, nor business, but are just automatized accounts.

But anyone can set up a legit bot for Twitter - for example painter can setup a bot to post to Twitter everytime they put up a new image on their website. In fact, any hobbyist can do this with any hobby that they post about. This isn't a business, nor is it a human. Just an automated account. But it still has value, both to people who may follow it for notifications of new content, as well as the person wanting to notify.

This is the point of the article, that bots aren't valueless by default, making the question of how many they are someone irrelevant.

-3 ( +0 / -3 )

And there are human bots. Teenagers were paid to copy and paste political talking points to social media during the last presidential election. There are human bots here. People who’s only contribution is to downvote targeted people, no matter how accurate and innocuous a comment may be.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Can humans be bots. Humans can be paid to be manipulative, yes, but bots?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

GBR48 my thoughts exactly, articulated much better!

0 ( +0 / -0 )

LamillyToday  05:45 pm JST

Can humans be bots. Humans can be paid to be manipulative, yes, but bots?

Sure, their actions are robotic. They do what they’re programmed to do without independent reasoning.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

The timing of the question is obviously a part of an strategy to get away with paying much less than what was offered (or maybe to call of the whole deal?) so is to lump together all bots as if they were a negative influence when a lot of them are perfectly valid automated outlets of bits of useful information.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

“Simply banning all bots is not in the best interest of social media users.”

Why keep it real, when it can be kept….’unreal’?

1 ( +1 / -0 )

The real question should be, how many willing to pay Customers are there on Twitter ?

Everyone on Twitter. Maybe they aren't willing to pay cash, but they're paying with their personal information which is a commodity.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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