A crowdsourced question Elon Musk asked shows how fake Twitter user data is, saying that almost 20% of the total users are fake.
Over the last few weeks, there has been a growing sense that Elon Musk will not be the emancipator of Twitter, releasing it from its mystery algorithms that limit, block, and ban perfectly wonderful accounts entirely based on employee and management political vendettas.
He’s rumored to have cold feet, as if Elon’s quest for better data is just a ruse to hide his emotional doubt. That simply isn’t the case. What he has deduced—that Twitter underreports the enormous number of fake accounts and bot armies that use its platform—could turn out to be yet another modern-day scandal.
It’s only 5%, according to Twitter. Elon has crowdsourced the question and believes the number is closer to 20%.
The truth is out there, but Twitter is failing to admit it. Why is this the case? This is where we get to the heart of the problem: the reach data provided by these companies—which applies to hundreds of thousands of websites, not just Twitter—forms the basis of its pricing structure for advertising and hence drives the business model’s fundamentals.
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The business concept is that these companies sell your content to advertising so that they can sell to you. You supply your content because you want your opinions known. Advertisers pay for access to your brain based on an estimate of how many people are on the site and how wide their reach is. Accuracy is crucial in this situation.
However, the way these companies have operated in the past has not always been accurate. The data is subjected to a great deal of manipulation. Twitter, for example, has proven to be abysmal at monitoring the number of fake accounts posing as celebrities with significant followings. It’s reasonable to assume that getting rid of such accounts should be a priority for Twitter.
I’ve been dealing with it for years and have spent far too much time trying to get rid of it. Who has that kind of time? It’s completely absurd. But have a look at this issue, which has been ongoing for several weeks. Martin Kulldorff of Brownstone has a well-known Twitter account, yet I can easily search his name and find a slew of fake accounts.Take note of the subtle variations in spelling. This isn’t a difficult task! Is there anything Twitter can do about it? Not in many weeks.
If this is any indication of the underlying facts, Twitter has a major issue on its hands. Instead of concentrating its efforts on banning good accounts, it might have focused them on resolving a problem that affects all users.
There is, however, more at stake. Consider that Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton has launched a Twitter probe. The Texas Deceptive Trade Practices Act would be violated if the company inaccurately stated its actual user base. Paxton has given the company until June 27, 2022, to produce evidence for how it calculates the figures it boasts to advertisers. We’ll have to wait and see. It’ll very certainly end up in court.
Twitter’s refusal to comply with Elon’s demand, as well as its apparent lack of transparency in this matter, is not unique in this sector. It has an impact on the entire digital world. The data is simple to manipulate. Users do not have to be users. People have figured out how to use the system to gain power. People who have made accounts and then forgotten about them, not logging in for years, are counted as users by companies.
I’ve been working hard recently to clean up my online accounts, and I’ve found how difficult this can be. I used to think Snapchat would be popular, so I signed up for one (don’t judge me).
Then it became boring for me. I recently discovered the app and chose to deactivate my account. I quit up after 30 minutes of trying, having entirely forgotten my logins and passwords, and then looking for an eternity for a way out. Yes, I could have tackled the issue, but it would have been too difficult. The same can undoubtedly be said for another dozen or two similar instances.
Meanwhile, I’m sure these companies have me listed as a user. To put it another way, it’s a sham.
Years ago, I started watching the behaviour of a certain media team on YouTube, and I saw that something wasn’t quite right with the outrageous statements they were making. I performed a deep dive into this alleged traffic one day. It turns out that 95% of the views were only a few seconds long, and the majority of them came from strange and far-flung corners of the world. The production company was paying pennies for views that were not real views, it turned out. But you’ll have to look very closely and very deeply to figure it out. It’s there, but it’s hidden.
The issue is both systematic and enormous. A similar issue arose with Facebook. In this field, there are numerous overcharges. The capacity to produce fake users, views, and traffic is rather simple to accomplish. It proves too alluring for these venues, especially given how readily investors and advertisers can be duped. I’ve worked in administration for a long time and have seen the reality, which are not what these companies claim.
If Elon can figure out what’s going on, he’ll have had a huge impact on the entire social media sector. Even if he never becomes the owner of Twitter, he will compel new levels of honesty and transparency. Not only on Twitter and YouTube, but also on Facebook, TikTok, and other platforms, there could be major problems brewing. These disclosures could lead to yet another sharp drop in stock prices.
There’s a bigger picture here. Consider how these companies utilise their resources. They have their workers working long hours and with deep focus to come up with grounds to ban anyone with right-wing ideas. At the direction of their government overlords, they have erased thousands, if not millions, of valid accounts of people who have told the truth. Bans continue uninterrupted, day after day, hour after hour.
And, in the process, they’ve allowed bot armies to run amok, resulting in a significantly diminished user experience. To put it another way, they aren’t doing their jobs and are instead exploiting the platform to pursue a political agenda.
Obviously, this is unsustainable. But these are truthful times. It’ll all come out in the end. The days of the great reckoning are upon us.
What is happening on Twitter right now is affecting the entire economy. According to a new poll, economic optimism has plummeted dramatically. According to a Wall Street Journal poll, 83 percent of respondents polled believe the economy is either not good or worse. The dissatisfaction is becoming more pronounced.
In this atmosphere, frothy social media corporations, platforms that made fortunes from lockdowns that they promoted and championed on behalf of governments all across the world, may face a significant cleaning of their clocks. Whether or not Elon Musk’s proposed purchase of Twitter succeeds, the privileged censors who have depended on exaggerated stats for years will suffer.