Twitter Inc (NYSE:TWTR)’s whole business model is based on human interactions and people seeing tweets and clicking on them so that the company can earn ad revenue. However, that business model gets a bit watered down when we consider that millions of the micro-blogging platform’s users aren’t even human. They’re bots that are incapable of engaging with advertisers. Of course the issue of fake accounts is something Twitter and competitor Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB) have been battling for years.
Twitter bots taking over?
Currently Twitter has over 270 million active users who not only log in but also tweet. However, the Daily Mail reports that about 23 million of those users don’t ever actually visit Twitter. They’re bots that automatically pull information through other apps like news aggregators. Of these 23 million, it’s unclear just how many of these bots aren’t human.
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Also a spokesperson for Twitter says that 23 million doesn’t include bots that tweet and push information into the site. However, the micro-blogging company will not say how many of its monthly active users are actually in this category. The company also says 6 million people only use Twitter through services that allow them to automatically tweet.
There are several different types of bots on Twitter, like the account @big_ben_clock that automatically tweets the word “bong” on the hour. There are also spell checker bots, a bot that tweets automatic replies that are inspired by Alan Partridge and others. Some bots tweet links that are either promotional in nature or otherwise just malicious.
Analyzing Twitter’s user base
It’s unclear just how many spam accounts are included in that 23 million number provided by Twitter either. It does not include spam accounts that have been identified, although it might include an unknown number of unidentified spam accounts. The company classifies spam as being users who create more than one accounts. Other violations of Twitter’s rules include posting trending topics nonstop for the purpose of getting others’ attention, posting duplicate updates and posting links along with unrelated posts.
Overall, Twitter says approximately 5% of its accounts are either fake or spam accounts. That’s around 13.5 million. The company also said in its quarterly filings that about 11% of its active users only use third-party apps to access its micro-blogging platform.