Technology

Elon Musk has more fake Twitter followers than real ones


Out of the billionaire’s 93,389,007 Twitter followers, 65,559,083 are not ‘real, authentic people’ (Picture: Reuters)

It looks like the richest man in the world might not be quite so rich in Twitter followers.

Just over 70% of Elon Musk’s followers appear to be ‘fake’, according to a report by research tool SparkToro.

These could include accounts that are bots, inactive, or set up to send spam or propaganda.

This effectively means that out of the billionaire’s 93,389,007 Twitter followers, 65,559,083 were not real, authentic people.

A joint audit by SparkToro and Followerwonk, another research tool, revealed that over 23.42% of Mr Musk’s 93 million followers on Twitter were likely fake or spam accounts.

When you add inactive users, which researchers defined as accounts that hadn’t tweeted in 90 days, over 70.23% of the Tesla CEO’s followers were found unlikely to be ‘authentic’ or ‘active users who see his tweets’.

This doesn’t appear to be news to Mr Musk, who responded to a report that half of Joe Biden’s Twitter followers were fake, using the same tool.

‘So … [checks calculator] … that would be like 10 times more […] or 14 times higher than Twitter’s 5% in my case,’ tweeted Mr Musk.

Researchers said that the number of the entrepreneur’s fake followers was well above average but ‘unsurprising’.

They said larger accounts tended to have more spam followers, which in Mr Musk’s case was ‘exacerbated’ by media coverage of his frequent Twitter use, and the site’s recommendation systems.

Accounts that receive a great deal of press attention and public interest, like ex-President Trump, also tend to attract more fake followers than others, said the researchers.

Yesterday, Mr Musk said in a tweet that he would not be moving forward with his $44billion (£35.4billion) offer to buy Twitter until the company showed proof that spam bots accounted for less than 5% of its total users.

This was hours after suggesting he could seek a lower price for the company, as his original offer was based on Twitter’s SEC filings, which he now believes were inaccurate.

Mr Musk spent this week questioning the site’s method for counting spam bots and even launched one of his famous Twitter polls.

He asked the public if they agreed with Twitter’s claim that over 95% of its users were ‘real, unique humans’.

‘They claim that they have got this complex methodology that only they can understand,’ the SpaceX CEO added.

‘It cannot be some deep mystery that is, like, more complex than the human soul or something like that.’

Twitter’s CEO Parag Agrawal tweeted internal estimates of spam accounts on the social media platform for the last four quarters were ‘well under 5%’.

But Mr Musk clearly was not buying his defence of the methodology, responding with a poop emoji.

Previously Mr Musk had said that his deal to buy Twitter was ‘temporarily on hold’ over details around the number of spam and fake accounts present on the site.

He tweeted: ‘My offer was based on Twitter’s SEC filings being accurate. Yesterday, Twitter’s CEO publicly refused to show proof of <5% (spam accounts). This deal cannot move forward until he does.’


MORE : Elon Musk stalls on $44,000,000,000 Twitter deal over spam bot worries


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