Social media is becoming less useful by the day. Nowhere is this more evident than on Twitter. The so-called microblogging service may still serve as an of-the-moment cultural barometer. But what good is that barometer if the gauge it’s built on is fundamentally broken? Twitter’s ability to give us nearly realtime data on trending topics is only really worthwhile if that data is reliable.
And how reliable can that data be if an estimated 48 million Twitter accounts are actually bots? According to a new study, somewhere between 9 and 15 percent of all tweets come from fake accounts. This is just the latest indicator that Twitter itself, and perhaps social media in general, is being ruined by bot masters who serve up all kinds of fake activity to those who’ll pay for it.
Twitter’s own estimate of bots on its platform came in lower than what the study found. According to a recent filing, Twitter stated its bot count is around 8.5 percent. While Twitter’s methodology for bot calculation may be different than the methods used by the researchers who came up with the study, it’s still in Twitter’s interest to have an overall lower bot score.
This study doesn’t do much to improve Twitter’s already shaky reputation as of late. Hopefully, there’s something the social network can do to round up and eject these fake accounts. I guess the real question is, does Twitter even care?