Now more than ever it’s becoming more and more apparent that bots are infiltrating the web.
A new study done by University of Southern California and Indiana University revealed that up to 15% of accounts on Twitter are actually bots, not real human beings.
What does this mean?
Likes, retweets, and followers may not be reflective of a human following, which can really hurt one’s engagement.
It’s no secret Twitter has been struggling to keep up with other social media giants like Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat. So this news does not bode well for them.
In order to identify these non human accounts on Twitter, the researchers used a thousand different features. These features used specific categories that included friends, average time between tweets, network patterns, tweet sentiment and content, etc.
Researchers concluded that “our estimates suggest between 9% and 15% of active Twitter accounts are bots”.
To date, Twitter has 319 million monthly users, which means that roughly 48 million users are bots.
Additionally, the report notes that some bots are complex enough to act human and fool the system, so it’s unclear as to how accurate this percentage truly is.
An interesting key point to take away from the study is that many of these fake accounts tweeted about political matters.
In fact, First Monday, a science journal reported that Twitter bot accounts contributed to 19% of all election tweets or 3.8 million to be exact during September 16 and October 21, 2016.
Take a second to stop and think. How much of the election buzz was coming from real accounts?
According To Twitter
8.5% of all active accounts are “...without any discernable additional user-initiated action.” according to Twitter. This is based on a filing Twitter did with the SEC last month.
Do the math...that’s a difference of over 20 million users.
When talking about bots, it’s important to note there are both good and bad bots. According to a Twitter spokesperson “many bot accounts are extremely beneficial, like those that automatically alert people of natural disasters...or from customer service points of view.”
Therefore, these numbers may not be as suboptimal as they may appear.
Twitter is an Internet Sheriff who is making efforts to hone in on these abusive accounts, this study is truly cause for concern that this issue may be more pertinent than we thought.
Before launching your next Twitter campaign, keep these findings in mind. Bot accounts can not only negatively affect customer engagement, but also hurt your advertising budget ROI.
At ClickCease we provide a solution for click fraud but since there is a growing number of bots and malicious activity, make sure you consider these red flags before launching your next campaign.