How Many Fake Accounts Are on Twitter?


With the news of Elon Musk possibly buying Twitter, the number of spam accounts on Twitter has come under fire, with many, including Musk, not believing the companies claim that only 5% of its users are spam accounts. Musk believes the number lies somewhere around 20%. Thus, I thought it would be interesting to delve into how many spam accounts are actually on Twitter. In its transparency center(transparency.twitter.com), Twitter provides stats on its efforts to combat fake, malicious, and spam accounts. I took the numbers from the site and summed them to get the numbers in the graph above. The overwhelming majority of the accounts included in the numbers above come from what Twitter calls "anti-spam challenges." These challenges occur when Twitter suspects an account of engaging in platform manipulation("the unauthorized use of Twitter to mislead others and/or disrupt their experience by engaging in bulk, aggressive, or deceptive activity. This prohibited activity includes, but is not limited to, spam, malicious automation, and fake accounts."-Twitter Transparency). This doesn't remove the account, instead, Twitter makes the account provide information to prove its human, or makes it solve a reCaptcha.


The fact that Twitter does not directly remove the account means its probable that some spam accounts are able to slip through the cracks, especially since, reCaptchas have been shown to not be robot-proof(https://www.wired.co.uk/article/google-captcha-recaptcha ). What is interesting is that Twitter flagged significantly more spam accounts in 2018 than it did more recently in 2021. With this information, what do you think? Is Twitter telling the truth?


Update: On July 8, 2022, Musk withdrew his offer to buy Twitter, in part because of his suspicions that Twitter is composed of a large amount of spam accounts.

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