According to study groups, more than 23% of Elon Musk's Twitter followers are spam or fake accounts

One of the research companies' audit tool also reveals that nearly half of President Joe Biden's Twitter followers are most likely phony or spam accounts.

According to a joint audit issued Sunday by two research companies, more than 23.42 percent of billionaire Elon Musk's 93 million Twitter followers are likely fraudulent or spam accounts.

SparkToro and Followerwonk both stated that their definitions of "fake" and "spam" accounts may differ from Twitter's.

They claimed to have employed a system of 17 warning signs based on an algorithm that ran through 35,000 bogus Twitter accounts purchased by SparkToro and 50,000 accounts recognized as non-spam by the teams.

They added that if one of Musk's followers was identified for several spam signals, they assessed it as low quality or false.

When inactive users, defined as accounts that haven't tweeted in 90 days, were taken into account, the researchers concluded that 70.23 percent of Musk's followers were unlikely to be "genuine" or "active users who read his tweets."

Fake accounts based on numbers

They discovered that 73 percent of Musk's over 100 million followers contain spam-related terms on their profiles, and 71 percent utilize locations that don't match any known place name.

According to the researchers, 41 percent of these accounts had display names that fit spam tendencies. Notably, 69 percent had been inactive for more than 120 days, according to the groups.

According to the study groups, 83 percent of Musk's followers have a "suspiciously small number of followers," and 78 percent follow a "unusually small number of accounts."

According to Rand Fishkin of SparkToro, what constitutes a "small number" is determined by the algorithm.

"For example, an older or more active account may have a greater threshold than a fresher account that tweets less and has a lower one," he stated in an email.

Other indicators examined by the teams include the age of the Twitter account, the number of tweets it has posted over time, and whether it uses Twitter's default profile image.

As a result, SparkToro defines false accounts as "those that do not have a human being personally creating the content of their tweets, consuming the activity on their timeline, or engaging in the Twitter ecosystem on a regular basis."

According to the company's SEC filing for Q1 2022, Twitter defines monetizable daily active users as "people, organizations, or other accounts who checked in or were otherwise authenticated and accessed Twitter on any given day" through its paid products or platforms that show ads.

The corporation has not publicly disclosed its entire strategy for identifying false or spam accounts.

According to SparkToro's investigation, some "false accounts" aren't necessarily dangerous, such as bots that aggregate front page news headlines or ones that tweet photographs and links from restaurants around the world.

However, it claims that the majority of the spam accounts it has identified are guilty of spreading propaganda and disinformation, distributing phishing attempts or malware, manipulating stocks and cryptocurrencies, and harassing other users.

It also stated that their study may be undercounting active users who do nothing but browse their timelines, and that it may be missing some sophisticated spam accounts.

Nonetheless, the research groups stated that their analysis is based on a "conservative" estimation of what constitutes a phony or spam account.

Musk's Twitter bot controversy

The evaluation comes as Musk announced on Friday that he is postponing his $44 billion purchase of Twitter until the company can verify that less than 5% of its users are fraudulent.

His declaration sparked a heated online debate between him and Twitter CEO Parag Agrawal, who defended Twitter's stats and posted that it suspends half a million spam accounts per day.

Musk reacted with a feces emoji and asked how Twitter advertising would know what their money would get them. According to one research group, Musk's apparent reluctance to purchase the platform could be a tactic to negotiate a lesser price or back out of the transaction.

Twitter, on the other hand, indicated on Tuesday that it is sticking to the $54.20 per share price agreed upon with Musk.

The Tesla CEO and founder recently admitted that the figures on his personal Twitter account may be overstated.

Speaking at a tech conference in Miami on Monday, he mentioned that one of the most-liked tweets on the network (his own post about buying Coca-Cola) has 4.8 million likes, compared to Twitter's estimated 217 million total active users.

Musk expressed concern that Twitter's count is off by "an order of magnitude."

"Something doesn't add up here, and my issue isn't whether it's 5 percent, 7 percent, or 8 percent, but whether it's maybe 80 percent or 90 percent bots?" He stated.

Based on a sample of 44,058 random accounts, SparkToro and Followerwonk estimate that approximately 19.42 percent of all active Twitter accounts are likely spam or false accounts.

According to the two organisations, it is not uncommon for notable or huge Twitter accounts, such as Musk's, to have a substantial number of phony followers. According to SparkToro's follower audit tool, roughly half of President Joe Biden's Twitter followers are inactive, fraudulent, or spam accounts.

SparkToro conducted a similar research on former President Donald Trump's account in October 2018, and discovered that 61% of Trump's followers were bots, spam, propaganda, or inactive accounts.

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