Elon Musk concerned over the high number of Twitter bots

  • Twitter is facing an increase in the number of spam-bot accounts.
  • These bots are implicated in spreading false news and in financial scams such as cryptocurrency scams.
  • Elon Musk wants to introduce stronger security measures to reduce the number of these bots.

On Thursday, April 14th, historically,  Elon Musk the billionaire who is known to have his hands in multiple cookie jars, added yet another feather to his cap as he moved to acquire one of the world’s leading microblogging social media platforms, Twitter.

While the mammoth takeover which cost Musk 44 billion USD is now in a stage of “temporary” halt, the movie has yet not stopped the entrepreneur from making some important decisions regarding the firm’s future. One of such decisions or rather better termed, a concern for him is the existence of a widespread network of bots on Twitter.

What is a Bot

Bots are essentially a short form of the term “Robots”. In the essence of Twitter, these bots are used to refer to the automated accounts created by third-party vendors which use the public API of the social media platform.

What is the true purpose of these Bots?

On honest review, experts argue that theoretically, these Bots may not have a fixed goal as such but rather if they’re used correctly can be extremely useful and helpful.  An example of this is that a Bot can be used to broadcast important news or even prove useful in case of emergencies like extreme weather conditions in real-time. Different companies and organizations work in collaboration with third-party firms to automate their replies and or even likes. In general, these bots can reduce the work pressure on organizations and their employees while ensuring efficiency in response.

The cons which scare

Like any coin, this facet of technology to has its downsides. Specifically, in the arena of social media platforms like Twitter, these bots can be designed for malicious and harmful purposes as well. So far according to reports, Twitter bots have been implicated in all sorts of spreading of fake news, spamming, or even violation of one’s privacy and access to their information.

According to a study conducted recently, it is estimated that an alarming number of 11-15 percent of the accounts on Twitter are Bot accounts. However, Twitter’s official estimates say that the bot accounts constitute somewhat a meager 5 percent of the population.

In the 2016 presidential election, there were concerns that Russian bots helped influence the race in favor of the winner, Donald Trump. These bots are also implicated in fake giveaways and financial scams.

Musk’s view on this matter

In a recent press conference in Miami, Elon Musk stated that he does not believe these “official”  figures provided by Twitter CEO and is confident of the fact that Twitter Bots are significantly much larger in number and operation. He even claimed that Twitter uses a complex methodology to calculate bot accounts which may not be completely accurate either and hence data appears distorted. He exclaimed he wishes to crack down on bots involved in cryptocurrency scams. Some enthusiasts are even speculating if this issue might make Musk walk away from his billion-dollar deal for a takeover.

Musk believes that these bots are real threats to the peace in society since their number is vast and the false information spread by them is henceforth amplified. One can only imagine the negative effect it will have on society as a whole. This is the major reason why Elon Musk wants to deal with Twitter Bots and identifies them as a problem he is willing to address when he takes over.

The solution

It should be known that certain Bots are allowed on Twitter.  An example is the @tinycarebot, an account that tweets self-care reminders. However, the regulatory principle remains that such bots are “good bots” which are automated. Spambots aren’t however permitted according to company policy.

Users of Twitter must report accounts that appear to be bots. The company then locks such suspicious accounts. Plus the company also enforces strict security measures such as additional data such as phone numbers and verification by reCAPTCHA challenge. This challenge involves completing a puzzle or typing in a phrase seen in an image to confirm that a user is human. Twitter also can permanently suspend spam accounts to protect its users.

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