Elon Musk Vowed To Defeat Spambots On Twitter, But What They Are: Explained

Billionaire Elon Musk on Friday shelved his $44 billion (about Rs 3,40,800 crore) acquisition plan for Twitter, as he awaited details on the microblogging platform’s claim that fake accounts comprise less than 5 percent of its users.

muskWho has made fake Twitter accounts and spam bots a central theme of his takeover plan, said he would “beat spam bots or die trying” if he bought the social-media platform.

He has consistently blamed the company’s excessive reliance on advertising for the continued proliferation of spam bots.

TwitterLike other social media companies, over the years have been battling spam bots with software that spots and blocks them.

So, what are spam bots and what counts as a fake Twitter account?

Spam bots or fake accounts are designed to manipulate or artificially promote activity on social media platforms such as Twitter.

If accounts on the Platform engage in “bullish, offensive or deceptive activity that misleads people,” these activities are considered Platform manipulation in accordance with Company Policy.

Overlapping accounts that share similar content, mass registration of accounts, using automated or coordinated accounts to create fake engagements, and trading in followers are listed as violations of Twitter’s spam policy.

A Twitter survey conducted in four countries showed that the biggest user concern was the existence of “too many bots or fake accounts”.

How does Twitter detect fake accounts?

Twitter has a team that identifies real people and robots on its platform. The company uses machine learning and investigators to identify patterns of malicious activity.

The algorithm challenges through 5 million to 10 million accounts per week.

However, Twitter allows parodies, newsfeeds, commentary and fan accounts, provided they disclose the nature of the account in the bio.

What does Twitter do with fake accounts?

When Twitter detects a fake account, it can lock the account or demand verification. In case of multiple accounts, the user may be asked to have one.

Are all bots bad?

Twitter seems to think that not all bots are bad and has launched a label to tag the good ones.

“Who doesn’t like a handful of robots that promise not to rise against us?” The company’s Twitter safety handle tweeted in September last year.

Good bots allow automated accounts to share useful information such as updates on COVID-19 updates and traffic.

“Knowing who is real is fundamental to the integrity of the Internet,” said Tamer Hassan, CEO of cybersecurity firm Human.

“When it comes to managing the threat of sophisticated bots for organizations, most companies aren’t trying to lose. Defensive strategies focus on minimizing losses rather than playing to win.”

Why does Musk hate spam bots?

Musk, a self-proclaimed free speech absolutist, wants Twitter to become a platform for free speech, which he believes is “the basis of a functioning democracy”, and has given spam bots a support for the idea. sees it as a threat.

In a recent TEDx interview, Musk said that his top priority was to remove “bot armies” from Twitter, calling out bots that promote crypto-based scams on Twitter.

“They make the product even worse. If I had Dogecoin for every crypto scam I saw, we would have 100 billion Dogecoin.”

© Thomson Reuters 2022


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