Ever heard of “spam bots?” For those of you less technologically savvy, these are basically fake accounts. And social media is riddled with them, with some platforms being more affected than others.
Take Twitter, for example. According to a recent quarterly filing made in early May, it is estimated that some five percent or less of all accounts are actually fake. However, as this is just an estimate, the real or actual number could be much higher.
And that is precisely why the social media giant’s soon-to-be new owner, billionaire, and Tesla owner Elon Musk is putting his $44 billion purchase of the company on hold.
If you haven’t heard, these numerous fake accounts are part of the reason Musk wants to buy the company, to begin with, to get rid of the spam, and to make Twitter a platform that is built on truth and our Constitutional right to free speech.
But the question of just how many fake accounts there could be within the platform has Musk rethinking how exactly this deal will go – especially after a report came out Tuesday suggesting that there are likely far more spam bots than previously assumed.
According to a Newsweek report, an audit was conducted on Democratic President Joe Biden’s Twitter account, which supposedly has some 22.2 million followers. But according to the analysis of those followers and a software company SparkToro, about half of those appear to be fake.
The analysis looked at a number of factors, including default profile images, new users, and location issues. What was concluded is that 49.3 percent of Biden’s supposed followers aren’t real. Just to do a little math for you, that’s almost 11 million fake accounts.
Now, the study says that some of these could be due to Twitter accounts that are simply “no longer active.” According to SparkToro, fake accounts are those that are “unreachable and will not see the account’s tweets (either because they’re spam, bots, propaganda, etc. or because they’re no longer active on Twitter.” But you can’t expect all 11 million to be placed in the latter category.
Clearly, having half of your followers be fake isn’t exactly a proud moment, particularly for someone who was supposedly duly elected to be our president and the leader of the free world.
But more than that, it speaks of a major problem for the platform. And one that could severely influence its bottom line.
So who else has a plethora of fake followers? Well, in what could only be called curious, it was found that of Elon Musk’s 93.3 million followers, some 70 percent are fake.
Clearly, this only adds to Musk’s concerns about the platform. And so, he has officially put his purchase of the company on hold until he can get “proof” of just how many of Twitter’s accounts are indeed fake. The billionaire himself estimates the number to be around 20 percent, if not more. And if that is the case, he will seriously need to rethink this deal.
Now, to be clear, Musk has made it clear that the overall purchase of the social media platform is not the problem. Instead, the question is whether it is still worth the $44 billion he offered initially.
If a vast number of Twitter accounts and their actions on the platform are fake, then the company isn’t worth the value it was once estimated to have back when Twitter’s SEC filings were made. Besides, as Musk tweeted about, advertisers on the platform are likely getting gypped out of money too.
As he says, “This is fundamental to the financial health of Twitter.”
And if its stock prices say anything, it looks like Twitter is about to lose a lot of money. In fact, it already may be. Thursday, shares cost $45.09, and by Tuesday, they were down to $37.62.
If more audits continue and more fake accounts are found, Musk will likely get one hell of a deal on his purchase of Twitter.