How many bots are on Twitter and does it matter?

Xiaobai Software  2022-08-03 22: 41  read 34 views

You've probably heard of Twitter bots and how they became a problem for Twitter.On the surface, this may seem like an abstract question that you shouldn't be too concerned about.However, if you're someone who uses Twitter a lot, you probably already interact with bots more than you realize.

 

They may have liked, retweeted, or even replied to your tweet.You might even follow some of them.But why should you care, what's the point of their existence, how many of them are there?

What is a Twitter bot?

 

Twitter bots are software-controlled automated Twitter accounts programmed to create new tweets or interact with existing ones, often with specific goals.These targets can be beneficial to other users or malicious, depending on the kind of bot involved.One thing is clear, they almost always have a larger purpose.

The big picture could be driving a certain narrative, making someone popular, or helping other Twitter users with certain tasks that are often difficult or impossible to do on their own.

Although Twitter bots are often used as an umbrella term to describe spammers or fake accounts that impersonate others, the two categories are different in several ways.While bots can be programmed to impersonate others, or used to send spam to promote certain products, an account must be partially or fully automated to be called a bot.

How many bots are there on Twitter?

 

Twitter officially estimates that the number of bots on its platform is around 5%.According to Twitter's last reported monthly active users of 3.3 million, detailed in the Statista report, that means there are about 1650 million bots on Twitter.Unfortunately, the 5% figure is a very debatable figure.

Research by well-known institutions shows that this number is much higher, some as high as 20%.A 2017 paper by researchers at USC and Indiana University put that number between 9% and 15%. Botometer, a platform for checking bot followers, has a statistic around 20%.

From the perspective of how many bots Twitter handles on a daily basis, it still shows that Twitter's bot problem is a very worrying one.

According to Twitter CEO Parag Agrawal, Twitter removes more than 50 spam accounts every day.

For consistency, let's follow Twitter's assertion and take the 5% figure.That means there could be around 1650 million bots on Twitter at any point in time.

Not all of them are bad bots or spammers.But what's the difference between a good and a bad Twitter bot?

Different Types of Bots on Twitter

 

So what if an automated account interacts with your Twitter and maybe even starts a conversation on Twitter?Why should you care?Well, there are times you should pay attention and there are times you shouldn't. Twitter bots are roughly divided into two categories: good bots and bad bots.

What is a good Twitter bot?

Good bots are mostly created to perform automated actions that benefit the Twitter community.A large number of these bots are built to enhance features not currently available on Twitter.For example, you can mention some good robots to help you with some tasks.

Some of these include:

GetVideoBot: Since you can't download videos directly on Twitter, you can use GetVideoBot to download your favorite videos or GIFs.Mention @GetVideoBot when replying to a tweet with a video or GIF, and a link to download the video is automatically generated.

Remind Me Of This Tweet: Once you mention @RemindMe_OfThis in a tweet and give it a time frame, you will be reminded once the time has passed.For example, if you use "@RemindMe_OfThis 6 days" in a tweet, you will receive a Twitter notification for that tweet within 6 days.

Thread Reader App: Reading long threads on Twitter can be complicated, especially when they're mixed in with replies.Mentioning @threadreaderapp and adding the "unroll" keyword can help you package long Twitter threads into a more readable form.

What are the bad bots on Twitter?

 

In addition to good bots, Twitter also has malicious bots.This is the type of bot you should be very concerned about.But why?

One of the main reasons people create malicious bots is to spread misinformation or maliciously promote a person or product.They may also attempt to sway public opinion with disinformation around important political or global issues.

Bots have also been used to combat negative publicity, or artificially exaggerate the importance or value of a product.Elon Musk, who may be one of the top beneficiaries of these bots, has vowed to purge Twitter of bots if he takes over the company.

According to The Washington Post, Twitter bots are being used to build a favorable impression of Tesla and boost its stock price every time the electric car maker gets bad news.These are just a few examples of how Twitter bots can mislead by creating human opinions that don't represent reality.

In conclusion, bad bots don't reveal that they are bots and are used to spread disinformation or stir up public sentiment around certain issues.They also spam users, link scams, or artificially create trending topics and hashtags through coordinated actions.

Do Twitter bots matter?

Twitter bot counts matter, depending on how many accounts can be classified as malicious.Let's say a malicious actor took control of 3 bots and made them talk about something negative or positive.The multiplier effect they were able to create was enough to convince people, "Oh, look, this thing is pretty popular, and everyone's saying the same thing, so it must be true".

The debate over the number of bots on Twitter is at the center of the controversy between Twitter and Elon Musk.It's scary to think you might have an opinion that you're being manipulated by a robot brigade.It's subtle, but it works, and that's the problem.

Since Twitter is more or less a city square, false information there can leak into the larger internet community.If you're systematically bombarded with a certain narrative long enough, it's easy to be sold "propaganda" on certain issues.Therefore, what you think is popular opinion and truth may be the opinion provided to you by bots operated by malicious people.

What can you do with a Twitter bot?

Unfortunately, as a user, you can rarely block bots on Twitter.You can choose to build awareness within your means and report accounts that look suspicious or spread misinformation.

To avoid falling victim to fake opinions spread by bots, be careful about the comments and opinions you see on social media.Keep in mind that Twitter bots may look like a fabricated question, but if you use the platform, you should take steps to protect yourself.

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