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At least 15% of Chinese Twitter accounts are likely to be bots

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Israeli marketing security firm CHEQ says at least 15% of China’s Twitter accounts are likely bots.

CHEQs security platform identifies and filters invalid traffic (such as bots) visiting its marketer clients’ websites. So it can see and study bots and other fake accounts that follow ads and organic links from Twitter to its customers’ websites. In the past month, it studied 879,000 such visits and detected which website the bots came from, as well as the country in which the bot account was created.

The analysis found that 7.5% of all traffic to Twitter’s customer sites was deemed invalid by CHEQ’s software. By “invalid”, CHEQ means that the Twitter accounts that clicked on the ads came from botnets, or were crawlers, scrapers, or automation tools – and not legitimate Twitter users who clicked on ads. (It is worth noting that CHEQ is run by former members of the Israeli elite intelligence unit 8200, which is similar to the National Security Agency in the US)

CHEQ’s Global Head of Marketing, Daniel Avital, points out that overall Twitter bot traffic could: actually be significant higher because the company only captured bot accounts that clicked on Twitter ads or organic links within Twitter. (Twitter did not respond to a request for comment on CHEQ’s findings.)

The data, which appears to be consistent with: previous reports of Chinese bot accounts, comes as Twitter prepares to go to court to force Elon Musk to honor his $44 billion pledge to buy the social media company. Musk has claimed that Twitter has been hiding the extent to which bots are plaguing the social network.

In May, Twitter CEO Parag Agrawal tweeted that, according to the company’s own count, bots make up less than 5% of the mDAUs (money daily active users) on the platform. Agrawal was not secretive about the bot problem, but emphasized that Twitter is working hard on it. “We suspend over half a million spam accounts every day, usually before any of you even see them on Twitter,” he says. tweeted. “We also lock down millions of accounts every week that we suspect are spam – if they can’t pass human verification challenges (captchas, phone verification, etc.).”

More recently, Twitter’s former security chief Peiter “Mudge” Zatko told members of Congress that Twitter management lacks the motivation and resources to fully research and understand the true number of bots on the platform.

When CHEQ previously studied a full year of traffic (5.2 million site visits), it found in a May report that 29% of China’s Twitter traffic was labeled invalid. Of all Twitter traffic worldwide, CHEQ labeled 11.7% invalid.

CHEQ’s Avital says that no one outside of Twitter has access to data about all Twitter users and their activities, so investigate people and/or bots who click out from Twitter to go elsewhere may be the best way to study invalid Twitter accounts.


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