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18 May, 2022 09:16

Almost half of Biden’s subscribers on Twitter are bots, analysts claim

Nearly 20% of all accounts on the platform are fake, the same research says
Almost half of Biden’s subscribers on Twitter are bots, analysts claim

Almost half of President Joe Biden’s 22.3 million Twitter followers are fake. The findings were reported by Newsweek on Tuesday, citing analysis by SparkToro. The same measure was used by Elon Musk to pause his acquisition of the social media giant.

SparkToro, which operates a tool for identifying “fake” Twitter accounts from genuine followers, looked at the official @POTUS account and found that 49.3% were inauthentic. The screening process takes in several factors, from activity data to profile pictures, to make a judgment on whether there is a real person behind each account. The share of bots following Biden is higher than for most accounts, the company said.

Last week, billionaire Elon Musk paused his $44-billion acquisition of the platform, claiming that the company was wrong when it stated that less than 5% of Twitter accounts were “spam/fake”. He claimed the actual percentage to be closer to 20 and said the buyout price he offered to shareholders was based on the company estimate and an adjustment was in order.

Musk and Twitter CEO Parag Agrawal exchanged a series of tweets about the issue, with the executive touting Twitter’s efficiency in removing inauthentic accounts from the platform. Twitter suspends 500,000 fake accounts a day “usually before any of you even see them” and locks millions each week on suspicion of sending spam, Agrawal said.

SparkToro said Musk's assessment is accurate, based on their findings from a sample of some 44,000 active public Twitter accounts. They classified almost a fifth as fake.

The metric may vary significantly depending on whether dormant users are excluded from the sample. SparkToro also turned its attention to Musk’s followers and concluded that 23.42% of active accounts and 70.23% of all accounts subscribed to his posts were bots. Newsweek didn’t clarify whether the sample of Biden’s followers analyzed by the firm was filtered for activity.

A 2018 SparkToro analysis of then-President Donald Trump's personal account, @realDonaldTrump, found that of the 54 million followers he had at the time, 61% looked fake. Trump has since been de-platformed by Twitter.