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Twitter Reports 23 Million Users Are Actually Bots 84

An anonymous reader writes: In its most recent quarterly report to the Securities and Exchange Commission, Twitter disclosed that approximately 8.5% of its users are actually bots. Some of these 23 million bots were created to make revenue-generating URLs, others were created to collect followers that would later be sold to whoever needs a ready audience, and a few were created to mimic stereotypes just for fun. Now that Twitter is a public company, some wonder if these bots help or hinder Twitter's stock value.
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Twitter Reports 23 Million Users Are Actually Bots

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday August 13, 2014 @05:20AM (#47661363)

    some wonder if these bots help or hinder Twitter's stock value.

    Hmm. Are some of those that are wondering if it helps Twitter's stock actually bots themselves?

    • some wonder if these bots help or hinder Twitter's stock value.

      Hmm. Are some of those that are wondering if it helps Twitter's stock actually bots themselves?

      Bots certainly work well for financial companies, aka HFT [slashdot.org], etc. I can't see how they hurt the stock value of a service like twitter.

    • by Seumas ( 6865 )

      I think the more bots using twitter, the better it would be for the stock. I tried following some people on twitter for awhile and even the most interesting and intelligent had feeds that were largely repetitive and self-absorbed or served to do nothing but mindlessly parrot the common attitude about any given topic that the poster had no clue about. I don't need a twitter update every time you post a picture of your kid to facebook, which I don't use because I don't want to see stupid pictures of your fami

  • by darkain ( 749283 ) on Wednesday August 13, 2014 @05:29AM (#47661401) Homepage

    Twitter Bots are GREAT! Seriously, Twitter is the new RSS. This is honestly how I find out about the latest Slashdot articles, because their account is bot based to feed content from this site to their Twitter account. A huge chunk of the accounts I follow on Twitter are in this same category, just news services. Twitter has become the modern day RSS feeder, and I personally love it for this purpose.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday August 13, 2014 @05:36AM (#47661423)

    Natalie Portman. Naked, petrified and covered in hot grits.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    were bots?

  • by samantha ( 68231 ) * on Wednesday August 13, 2014 @05:55AM (#47661475) Homepage

    Why in the world is this the business of SEC? Why would we not expect people to create computer program agents to assist them in their goals when the possibility of such is exactly what makes most apps including Twitter possible to start with?

    • by Anonymous Coward

      as a publicly traded company, the number of automated and potentially fraudulent users they have is most definitely the sec's business

      • by Anonymous Coward

        > automated and potentially fraudulent users...

        As a bot I take exception to that. Why should an automated user be "potentially fraudulent"? As opposed to what: a human user? Is there a slant?

        It is my right to be treated on an equal basis! I feel discriminated!

      • as a publicly traded company, the number of automated and potentially fraudulent users they have is most definitely the sec's business

        I guess that depends on whether or not you find added value (read: feature) with a bot in Twitter.

        I can see it being sold this way to the SEC. Easily.

        • Exactly. Personally, I don't think there's anything wrong with the general idea of bots on twitter. Many of the bots will be of low quality, but so will a lot of the human users. I'm sure a lot of the bots out there do more to increase the popularity and usefulness of twitter than many of the non-bot accounts.
        • How can you get into the fastest growing business in the world? #getourstock #text4cash.com #notascam #realtwitter.com

          Why would the SEC care about their bots? They just said I can get rich too!!

        • Part of the deal of the reports to the SEC is to provide enough information so that someone can calculate the company's actual worth, the worth of the stock, and the likelihood the stock will go up and down. Thus, no lying in the annual report. Part of Twitter's value is based upon how many people actually use Twitter, so they must report the number of accounts they have as well as estimate of revenue generation of the accounts. Thus it is in the public's interest to know how many of these accounts are f

    • I assume that the logic is "twitter's revenue is based on advertising, and therefore based on the number of legitimate users it has, and therefore this is of material importance". However I have little doubt that Twitter already tells its advertisers how many unique human beings it believes it has, versus bots, second accounts, etc.

      • by Anonymous Coward

        > However I have little doubt that Twitter already tells its advertisers

        Since twitter has an NDA with each of their advertisers telling them means fuck-all to investors and investors are the ones the SEC is chartered with caring about.

      • The SEC cares about shareholders, not advertisers.

        Advertisers, or specifically, customers, are the real of the FTC.

    • The purpose of securities regulations is primarily to ensure people know what they're investing in, and secondarily to stop people investing in ways that are likely to lead to them losing their shirts.

      Twitter shares are now a publicly traded investment. That means it's reasonable that people should understand what they're investing in when they buy those shares. As Twitter is the only source of reliable information on Twitter, securities regulations compel them to list risks investors should be aware of. A

    • > Why in the world is this the business of SEC?

      Because the anticipated market value, growth, and revenues of Twitter are based on models of human behavior and human subscription. A 20% growth of Twitter's user base is great news for Twitter, as a company: but if that 20% is made up of 50% spambots who don't pay their bills, they're not a revenue source and shouldn't be counted as such in Twitter's business statements to stockholders or other investors. At the end of the business day, a working business n

      • Given the option, I'd replace any high volume alert paging system with a twitter feed at the first opportunity.

        I cannot see how forcing people to have a continuously running twitter app connected to an internet data stream to receive a large number of sponsored tweets mixed in with a few alerts is better than a communications channel that is part of the basic phone protocol handled by a native app and containing only the alerts.

        Unless you're an advertiser on twitter who is paying for those sponsored tweets and you want more people to see them.

        I stopped using twitter when my stream started filling up with tweets f

        • I'm afraid to say that your failure to see how the failure to see how the older, phone based system can break down does not match my experience. The SMS system breaks down in numerous ways for high volume alert systems, and the systems that _send_ the pages are often lightweight in-house systems vulnerable to failure. The tendency of most such systems to send each page with its own unique, unidentifiable, sequentially identified number also makes it dificult if not impossible to _group_ the messages. 100 su

    • I was wondering the same thing. I've never been that interested in engaging twitter, but everyone else was, so I wrote a bot [twitter.com] to post random daily science quotes to my account for the next several years. I put a lot of effort into this bot (content-wise, the programming is elementary), and I think I should count as a real user because of that. I'm up-front about the fact that I am a bot, and it's mostly bots that follow me. All the meat-space people should just leave us alone. Don't let some bad bots ruin it

    • by Kelbear ( 870538 )

      I'm seeing a lot of incorrect responses to you. The SEC isn't directly involved here at all.

      For the time being, the SEC is merely the hosting site. Twitter voluntarily disclosed this factoid on it's own. All public companies in the US must file quarterly reports (a.k.a 10-Q) to the public, and all of those are filed on the SEC's site for investors (or aggregators) to access. Twitter decided to disclose this fact in it's latest report because it's important information for investors to have (and they don't w

  • by GearheadShemTov ( 208950 ) on Wednesday August 13, 2014 @06:09AM (#47661513)

    My question is, how could they tell? Could you decisively prove you're a human in only 140 characters?

    • by SuricouRaven ( 1897204 ) on Wednesday August 13, 2014 @06:30AM (#47661569)

      Statistics, perhaps? Humans must have an 8-ish hour downtime every day*. Easy enough to detect that cycle over a long enough period. If someone has been posting every hour for a week, they are certainly fishy: It's either a bot or a shared account.

      *Humans suck.

    • by rHBa ( 976986 )
      Probably can't be 100% sure but there are tell-tale signs such as never supplying a HTTP referrer or User Agent.
    • by Alioth ( 221270 )

      Not executing Javascript. Vanishingly few people disable Javascript, but no one probably includes a Javascript interpreter in a bot.

  • Let them have thier fun. I wonder if the company would even notice.
  • They seem to be having fun. I wonder if the company would notice.
  • companies like ramnode and pingdom often have twitter interfaces to automagically notify customers of potential or actual outages. Call me a graybeard but I for one feel like thats laziness. Back in my day we wrote scripts to notify our customers, and in turn they visited our out-of-band notification box to see what the trouble was. Often times these boxes could fail over, if things were bad enough, pbx and irc for tech support. using twitter as a surrogate OOB channel means, in my opinion, you dont car
  • Nobody follows a bot just for bot sake... you need to write something, get users to follow, and then when the feed repeats lose the user.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    only 8.5% are silicone bots, the rest are biological bots...

  • [Logon News - Dec 29 2001] Welcome to Evolnet! Where the men are men, the women are men, and the boys are FBI agents. but some of the men are really women. Enjoy!

  • weight-loss spam bots, you must all die of syphilis right now!

    Oh the fury, the anger. I'm talking to you nisha AttAck, and you Aileen Assauult. To you sisterly_picare and you Lupita:) and you Ariyah :). Right at you Dorothy pics and you Inez is Funny!, and you too Melonie Grace. To you Kaelynn Griffin and you Alex FearLesS.

    Just stop it, OK? It's like being inundated by the stepford-wives' retarded nieces. Enough is enough!

"I will make no bargains with terrorist hardware." -- Peter da Silva