Tesla CEO has been fighting with Twitter over the number of fake accounts on the platform putting his deal to buy the company on hold while he investigates. “So how do advertisers know what they’re getting for their money? This is fundamental to the financial health of Twitter,” Musk said.
According to an audit from SparkToro, nearly half of President Joe Biden’s Twitter followers are fake. Newsweek reported: “SparkToro’s tool found that 49.3 percent of accounts following the official @POTUS Twitter account are “fake followers” based on analysis of a number of factors, including location issues, default profile images and new users.”
SparkToro’s definition of “fake followers” is ”accounts that are unreachable and will not see the account’s tweets (either because they’re spam, bots, propaganda, etc. or because they’re no longer active on Twitter).”
The Tesla CEO gave Twitter an ultimatum over the fake account problem yesterday.
Musk said: “20% fake/spam accounts, while 4 times what Twitter claims, could be *much* higher. My offer was based on Twitter’s SEC filings being accurate. Yesterday, Twitter’s CEO publicly refused to show proof of <5%. This deal cannot move forward until he does.”
Twitter’s CEO fought back weakly with: “First, let me state the obvious: spam harms the experience for real people on Twitter, and therefore can harm our business. As such, we are strongly incentivized to detect and remove as much spam as we possibly can, every single day. Anyone who suggests otherwise is just wrong.
“Next, spam isn’t just ‘binary’ (human / not human). The most advanced spam campaigns use combinations of coordinated humans + automation. They also compromise real accounts, and then use them to advance their campaign. So – they are sophisticated and hard to catch.
“Some final context: fighting spam is incredibly *dynamic*. The adversaries, their goals, and tactics evolve constantly – often in response to our work! You can’t build a set of rules to detect spam today, and hope they will still work tomorrow. They will not.
“We suspend over half a million spam accounts every day, usually before any of you even see them on Twitter. We also lock millions of accounts each week that we suspect may be spam – if they can’t pass human verification challenges (captchas, phone verification, etc).
“The hard challenge is that many accounts which look fake superficially – are actually real people. And some of the spam accounts which are actually the most dangerous – and cause the most harm to our users – can look totally legitimate on the surface.
“Our team updates our systems and rules constantly to remove as much spam as possible, without inadvertently suspending real people or adding unnecessary friction for real people when they use Twitter: none of us want to solve a captcha every time we use Twitter.
“Now, we know we aren’t perfect at catching spam. And so this is why, after all the spam removal I talked about above, we know some still slips through. We measure this internally. And every quarter, we have estimated that <5% of reported mDAU for the quarter are spam accounts.
“Our estimate is based on multiple human reviews (in replicate) of thousands of accounts, that are sampled at random, consistently over time, from *accounts we count as mDAUs*. We do this every quarter, and we have been doing this for many years.
“Each human review is based on Twitter rules that define spam and platform manipulation, and uses both public and private data (eg, IP address, phone number, geolocation, client/browser signatures, what the account does when it’s active…) to make a determination on each account.
“Unfortunately, we don’t believe that this specific estimation can be performed externally, given the critical need to use both public and private information (which we can’t share). Externally, it’s not even possible to know which accounts are counted as mDAUs on any given day.
“There are LOTS of details that are very important underneath this high-level description. We shared an overview of the estimation process with Elon a week ago and look forward to continuing the conversation with him, and all of you.”
Musk fired back at a conference saying he did not believe Twitter’s numbers and thinks it is more like 20% bots.
He also said buying Twitter at a lower price is “not out of the question.”
“The more questions I ask, the more my concerns grow,” he said.
Thats why half his followers are fake accounts.— S L (@Irish_fan_81) May 18, 2022
Newsweek: Half of Joe Biden's Twitter Followers Are Fake, Audit Reveals.https://t.co/QwogUPDYG1
Newsweek: Almost half of Joe Biden's 22.2 million followers on Twitter are fake accounts, according to an audit tool provided by software company SparkToro pic.twitter.com/ql3Nq0akjC— mike meyers (@meyersmike8160) May 18, 2022