Musk Vowed to Defeat Spam Bots on Twitter, but What Are They: Explained

Billionaire Elon Musk on Friday posted his $ 44 billion takeover plan for Twitter, while waiting for details on the microblogging platform’s claim that fake accounts make up less than 5 percent of users.

Musk, who has done away with fake Twitter accounts and spambots to the central theme of his takeover plan, said that if he buys the social media platform “he will defeat the spambots or die when he tries”.

He has always blamed the company’s excessive reliance on advertising for the relentless spread of spambots.

Twitter, like other social media companies, has been fighting spambots in recent years through software that detects and blocks them.

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

Spambots or fake accounts are designed to manipulate or artificially increase activity on social media platforms such as Twitter.

If accounts on the platform engage in “bulk, aggressive or misleading activity that misleads people”, these activities are considered platform manipulation, according to company policy.

Overlapping accounts that share similar content, mass registrations of accounts, the use of automated or coordinated accounts to create false engagements and trading with followers are listed as violations of Twitter’s spam policy.

A Twitter survey conducted in four countries showed that the biggest user problem 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 recognize patterns of harmful activity.

The algorithms challenge through 5 million to 10 million accounts per week.

However, Twitter allows parody, news feed, comments and fan accounts, provided they reveal the character of the account in the cinema.

What does Twitter do with fake accounts?

When Twitter detects a fake account, it can lock the account or seek verification. If there are several accounts, the user may be asked to keep one.

Are all bots bad?

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

“Who does not love a handful of robots who promise not to rise up 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 company HUMAN.

“When it comes to dealing with the threat that sophisticated bots pose to organizations, most companies try not to lose. Defensive strategies focus on minimizing damage rather than playing to win.”

Why does Musk hate spambots?

Musk, a self-proclaimed freedom of speech absolute, wants Twitter to be a forum for free speech, which he considers to be “the foundation of a functioning democracy”, and sees spam bots as a threat to this idea.

In a recent TedX interview, Musk said his top priority was to remove “cure armies” on Twitter, and called out cures that promote crypto-based scams on Twitter.

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

© Thomson Reuters 2022

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