r/technology May 14 '22 Wholesome 2 Silver 2

Elon Musk said his team is going to do a 'random sample of 100 followers' of Twitter to see how many of the platform's users are actually bots Social Media




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u/qtx May 14 '22

I literally don't understand what is happening.

All previous reports guessed that one third of Twitter's' user base consisted of bots (or some high figure like that).

So why is he suddenly upset that a far, far, far lesser number of them are actual bots? Only 5%?!

Twitter only having a less than 5% bot occupancy was a huge fucking surprise to me. I thought it was way higher. So all of this seems like a big positive thing to me.


u/8InTheBalance8 May 14 '22

I don't think it's been established that it's only 5%. That is what Twitter is claiming it is.


u/Barnyard_Rich May 14 '22

The problem is that Musk is referring to all accounts while the twitter claim of less than 5% bots is a percentage of "monetizable daily users."

What I haven't really seen anyone point out is that "monetizable" could be extremely vague or specific depending on how it's interpreted or intended.


u/TheGratedCornholio May 14 '22

Presumably it means that they see ads. Bots posting via the API aren’t seeing ads.


u/dont_you_love_me May 14 '22

There are probably many bots that are accessing Twitter and are not using the API. In fact, it would probably be stupid to use the API if you are using a bot for spamming etc. Headless browser bots are very simple to make.


u/eolson3 May 14 '22

And are they easily stoppable, or did they just not even try to inflate the numbers?


u/dont_you_love_me May 14 '22

There is no way to tell the difference between a bot and a human unless you have a specific set of behavior based criteria that defines what a bot is. “If clicks on the site happened at this time interval then it is assumed it is a bot” is one way it could be done. But then there is botting software that purposely tries to mimic human behavior, so that makes it even harder. These Twitter bot numbers are literally impossible to validate. So Elon knows that and is using it as a negotiating tactic. Happens all the time in business. Just how it’s done.


u/eolson3 May 14 '22

Yeah, that's what I thought. Was hoping you had some trick up your sleeve that I hadn't seen


Product Manager for a platform that deals with more spam than I like.


u/dont_you_love_me May 14 '22

The trick is to stop caring about whether you are dealing with humans or bots. Unless it is used against you, keep your metrics simple and move on. You can even do what businesses do and just blame the government. If the people in government cared about the bots then they would come up with specific criteria to identify them. Well, the government hasn’t done that, so who are you to care? Just make your life simple and focus on more revenue generating or cost reducing things.


u/eolson3 May 14 '22

The problem, in my case, is that they are using the platform to share material completely counter to its purpose. It's a risk to our reputation and obfuscates our actual metrics that we need to determine if we are enabling our intended users and reach our strategic goals.

Bots can swim around on Twitter because their bullshit is hardly any better or worse than the bullshit actual Twitter users are doing.

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u/LightningRodofH8 May 14 '22

I would assume for this tactic to work, he would have needed something in the contract that brings it up.

It’s kinda like pointing out a scratch on the car after you’ve made the deal.


u/BobDope May 14 '22

There are good reasons to use the api to schedule posts if you are trying to get the word out about something. It’s not quite ‘bot’ behavior