Up To 15% Of Twitter Accounts Are Fake, Study Finds

Tyler Durden's picture

In January, when we exposed that up to 350,000 Twitter accounts could be fake, the social media world started to question its own reality. Now, a study from USC and Indiana University, that Twitter has roughly 48 million active bot accounts. That's 15% of reported active users that are not human at all...

Earlier this year, a computer scientist in London has stumbled upon massive networks of fake Twitter accounts - with the largest consisting of over 350,000 profiles - which may have been used to 'fake' numbers of followers, send spam, and boost interest in trending topics. On Twitter, bots are accounts that are run remotely by someone who automates the messages they send and activities they carry out.

Some people pay to get bots to follow their account or to dilute chatter about controversial subjects.

As The BBC reported, UK researchers accidentally uncovered the lurking networks while probing Twitter to see how people use it.

But now, as CNBC reports, a much bigger big chunk of those "likes," "retweets," and "followers" lighting up your Twitter account may not be coming from human hands.

Researchers at USC used more than one thousand features to identify bot accounts on Twitter, in categories including friends, tweet content and sentiment, and time between tweets. Using that framework, researchers wrote that "our estimates suggest that between 9% and 15% of active Twitter accounts are bots."

Since Twitter currently has 319 million monthly active users, that translates to nearly 48 million bot accounts, using USC's high-end estimate. The report goes on to say that complex bots could have shown up as humans in their model, "making even the 15% figure a conservative estimate." At 15 percent, the evaluation is far greater than Twitter's own estimates.

In a filing with the SEC last month, Twitter said that up to 8.5 percent of all active accounts contacted Twitter's servers "…without any discernable additional user-initiated action."

Since that equates to roughly 20 million more bot accounts than Twitter's own assessment, that could be an issue in light of analyst concerns about user growth. In a recent research report, Nomura Instinet analysts wrote that "Twitter's revenue growth has slowed to the mid-single digits, as the platform has struggled to attract new users over the past year…"

The research could be troubling news for Twitter, which has struggled to grow its user base in the face of growing competition from Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat and others. But, of course, Twitter itself tried to spin this as a positive?

A Twitter spokesperson said that while bots often have negative connotations, "many bot accounts are extremely beneficial, like those that automatically alert people of natural disasters…or from customer service points of view."

The real concern, as Axios notes, is whether audience measurement companies should take bots into consideration as part of user traffic numbers, which affect advertising potential, if their behaviors mimic that of real human users.

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GUS100CORRINA's picture


"Truth is Treason in an Empire of Lies"

Reality check desparately needed.

Reality check is defined as a statement or action that helps you see what is really happening or possible.

Escrava Isaura's picture

GUS100CORRINA: Reality check desperately needed. 

Humanity doesn’t work like that. Look at some of your fake posts from the past. Sorry, I don’t want to pick on you, because you’re not the only one.

Anyway, the interesting question to ask should be: Why that we think we can lie/exaggerate?

It’s because we can get away with.

Now comes the second interesting question: But why that we get away with?

Well, here’s your answer: Because of the stupidity of the average man.

“The general concerns of all people - “elude” the public. The public just isn't up to dealing with them. And they have to be the domain of what he called a "specialized class" ... [Reinhold Niebuhr]'s view was that rationality belongs to the cool observer.

But because of the stupidity of the average man, he follows not reason, but faith. And this naive faith requires necessary illusion, and emotionally potent oversimplifications, which are provided by the myth-maker to keep the ordinary person on course. It's not the case, as the naive might think, that indoctrination is inconsistent with democracy. Rather, as this whole line of thinkers observes, it is the essence of democracy.

The point is that in a military state or a feudal state or what we would now call a totalitarian state, it doesn't much matter because you've got a bludgeon over their heads and you can control what they do.

But when the state loses the bludgeon, when you can't control people by force, and when the voice of the people can be heard, you have this problem—it may make people so curious and so arrogant that they don't have the humility to submit to a civil rule [Clement Walker, 1661], and therefore you have to control what people think.

And the standard way to do this is to resort to what in more honest days used to be called propaganda, manufacture of consent, creation of necessary illusion. Various ways of either marginalizing the public or reducing them to apathy in some fashion." — Noam Chomsky.



xythras's picture
xythras (not verified) Escrava Isaura Mar 13, 2017 5:08 AM

If we check Obama's Twitter followers we'll find more than 15% fakes. Fake birth certificate, fake everything.

But one thing  regarding Soetoro is not fake: the moles he left in GOV.

And Trump needs to MAN THE FUCK UP and purge them.

For god sake, how lame can you be IF FOX needs to step in and ADVISE you to purge the fucking moles and ge rid of Deep State leftists.

VIDEO: Sean Hannity Urges President Trump “To Drain The Swamp” and Purge the Deep State





flicker life's picture
flicker life (not verified) xythras Mar 13, 2017 5:26 AM

I'm making over $7k a month working part time. I kept hearing other people tell me how much money they can make online so I decided to look into it. Well, it was all true and has totally changed my life. This is what I do... http://bit.ly/2jdTzrM

New_Meat's picture

aaaaaand speaking of fake, bot accounts, we bring you flicker life, next in a series of 2 1/2 week old bot accounts with the self-pleasuring self-greenie subroutine.

Four chan's picture

50% of cnn followers are fake, i checked lol they are fucking pathetic.

Handful of Dust's picture

Fake News CNN and Failing NYT are going to be jealous.


They are getting "Faked out" by Fake Tweeters.

absente reo's picture

"This is what I do... "


U suck cocks and drink pee for a living.

How nice.

Kefeer's picture

A fool believes his own lies.

HedgeJunkie's picture

Hey, Twitter.

I don't do you, have no plan to.

I don't see your ads, nor anything you have to offer.

My only involvement with a Twit is what Zero Hedge finds important enough to reprint.

ChargingHandle's picture

FraudBook is even worse. Fake accounts with like farms in India, Indonesia and elsewhere generate likes on demand for just a few bucks. It is all FAKE. Facebook is the ultimate scam. 

Mission Canyon's picture

Judging by the number of fake bots on Tinder (which requires a facebook account) I would say Facebook has a lot bigger fake account problem than Twitter.

Megaton Jim's picture

You forgot about fake money and our previous fake Kenyan president!

Ryland's picture

"War is peace. Freedom is slavery. Ignorance is strength." I always thought twitter is just the real world version of newspeak but, I may have been wrong with people now dumbing down language even more with emojis. Btw make sure and thumbs up my comment, that means it's "plus good" or is that "double plus good"?

orangegeek's picture

Facefuck, linkedin - same shit.

Erek's picture

Faked accounts? I thought they were "genuine replica alternative accounts".

turnball the banker's picture
turnball the banker (not verified) Mar 13, 2017 2:29 AM

Wonder how many Zerohedge accounts are bots?

spdrdr's picture

Bring back the Captcha - especially the original model with the deceptively bland math quiz!  That stopped a lot of nonsense.

Wackford Squeers's picture

Captcha math quiz?  but ... but ... how will we English majors manage?

spdrdr's picture

That, my friend, was just one of the intrinsic beneficial aspects of the erstwhile Captcha!

HedgeJunkie's picture

Back in 2009, Zero Hedge commenters were imposing enough that I lurked for a year before sgning on.

My first post, don't remember what it was, but the captha asked what's the fifth root of five.

Shut my ass up for another six months.

I may look like a newbie, but I did cross that undefined line at a certain point...most of us did, at one point or another.

buzzsaw99's picture

back then anyone who didn't keep at least one spreadsheet open all day long wasn't one of "us". lulz

nowadays every shameless bot and his retard brother is on here.

stecha's picture

if you think twitter is worth wasting your time on, how about the cattle grain and people that have died in the mid west? over a 1 million adult cattle not to mention the calves at ove hal a million. Beef and grain are gonna go way up and its just gonna get worse. by this time next year when the nations of BRICS start leavying sanctions on the US, lifes gonna get real bad here. There will be nothing we can do about.

HenryKissingerChurchill's picture

thank god your pension funds are not investing your savings in SNAPCHAT and TWITTER stocks...

ft65's picture

Artificial Intelegence "Bots" abounds, it will get ever more important to trick / expose it with cleverly crafted posts. Watch out for shifting apeasment posts. Like modern movie reliance on computer generated graphics bots become more obvious by lack of credibility. Government agencies will use AI to distract and waste people energy. Still more fake news to look out for. Mankind is fucked



Panic Mode's picture

I bet it's higher on Fakebooks.

Peterman333's picture

Fakebooks has got to be HUGE though, so many fake profiles there, recently I caught the same picture of the same chick on two different named "friends you may know".


ft65's picture

Watch out for and learn about Artificial Intelligence and it's weakness (the use of algorithms to select weighted answers from large databases of answers. AI bots must be tripped-up and exposed by the use of cleverly worded responses.


Fake news and the Russian Bogeyman can be used as a cover for government agency AI. There are not enough individuals to respond to all the bullshit that is being rammed down our throats to keep us distracted from the truth that TPTB control mechanisms are broken.

TheVoicesInYourHead's picture

Likely closer to 30% or more are bots.

In addition, add another 20% for single users that have mulitiple accounts.

Miss Informed's picture

And my don't they go on and on about bitcoin.

Arnold's picture

SH--wave bots are the worst.

Peterman333's picture

Or people like myself who opened an account years ago only to find out within hours that it was completely f'ing useless. Guarantee my long unused account is still counted by twitter as an active account when they sell to their advertisers.

mathew913's picture

Advertisers demand refunds
Ad agencies pull consideration as media buy

ft65's picture

I urge all ZH to find out about and expose AI and robot technology and how it works and used against us.


The use of AI and the "fake news" agenda needs to be understood. The use of algorithms to select (and adapt) weighted predefined answers from large databases of answers. The technology is so simple and yet such a dangerous distractor. Wake-up ZH, wake-up and start posting articles like those that exposed computer algorithm trading. TPTB are currently ahead of the curve and playing you.


Kefeer's picture

The truth will set you free - Jesus is the Way to Heaven, Truth personified, and the source of Life we all enjoy.  Be reconciled to your Creator and do not be bothered by the events we are witnessing, for all these things are to take place, but the end is not yet. 

BTW - He has already defeated the enemy of men's souls, which Satan and his minions likely control the "deep state"; at the end all of them will die and most to an eternal fiery death and perhaps for a few an abundant and peace-filled eternal life.  God is good and only good.

overmedicatedundersexed's picture

good on you..your rewards are not of this world..

me I am only sure ..Truth is like a virgin in hollywood.

show me your face before you were born.

WTFUD's picture

Doesn't the same 'useful idiot' who wanks out of the Syrian Observatory For inHUMANe Rights Spew, do the twatter mess-a-round stuff from his one-bedroomed opium den in Coventry,UK, also?

Now the ONLY thing Coventry has going for itself, is that, it was heavily bombed in Nov,1940.

If only one of those occasionally come across, unexploded bombs were to be found sitting under the very foundations of this Wahhabi jerk-off's pig gaff . . . then the rest would be history.

Miss Informed's picture

Fake comments on Zero Hedge too. You know who you are. Just stop.

south40_dreams's picture

Never seen it.  Never seen it used.  Don't expect that will ever change.

Nunyadambizness's picture

Seen it (how could you not see it?), never used it, thought those that did should have been called TWITS, not tweets.  

damicol's picture

Fuck off.

15% fake.


95 fucking % fake.

Does anyone think real people use that shit.

Only fucking plastic fake people, faggots snowflakes mindless fucking drones and fucking wannabe fucking shit for brains celebrity's use that shit.

All fucking fake.

Arnold's picture

Dey iz zombies, not botz.

Youri Carma's picture

Twitter doesn't care about fake accounts but if you realy see something and say something you get banned.

Kefeer's picture

I was banned twice; once after one tweet, my first tweet to my broker and it was a question.  A second time I did not even get to the first tweet..the issue, the real issue..I refused to associate a phone number with the account even though they provide it as "optional".  Immediately it shuts the account down saying it may be compromised and to provide a phone number to send a SMS to reset the password to unlock the account.


So do those two count as active accounts as well?  How many people have multiple accounts like on FaceLessBook, where "kids" have an account for their parents and one for their nefarious activities.


Twitter ,Facebook etc are the death of privacy. Use them & you're a total idiot.

Any social media Service demanding your phone number is totally suspect.

Keep away.

ParaZite's picture

I'd say a good 50% of the women on there are fake, and probably 20% of those have a penis. 

DuneCreature's picture

Bots have every right to express their opinions too.

Just ask that pushy broad in your OnStar equipped ride.

Live Hard, The Fucking Back Seat Driving Bitch Needs A Ball Gag, Die Free

~ DC v5.0

TeraByte's picture

Does not come as a shocking surprise and in social media in particular. Only God knows, how many of FB accounts too are real and as a rule pages are force fed by a total crap.