The existence of fake accounts and/or bots isn’t surprising to those who have become public figures on social media, as there are many fake fans and retweets and follows that tend to piggyback on growing supporter bases for the purposes of advertising. But a new study independent from Twitter’s own researchers has now discovered that over twice as many accounts on the service are fake than originally estimated.
According to a summary of the study by CNBC:
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.”