Twitter’s Bot Problem is Spiraling Out of Control

When Elon Musk was in talks to buy Twitter, his main issue with the platform was the high number of bots. He suggested that the proportion of bots on the platform meant that it was worth less than might have been the case otherwise, and one of his biggest talking points was that he would reduce the bot count as much as possible.

In spite of the fact that this is the case, many Twitter users have been noting that the situation is not getting any better. Rather, it seems to have gotten worse. Musk has attempted to use Twitter Blue’s verification system to reduce the quantity of bots, along with rolling out new APIs that would take them down a notch, but most of these attempts seem to have failed miserably with all things having been considered and taken into account.

The Twitter account for WABetaInfo just put out a long tweet that highlighted some of these concerns. With all of that having been said and now out of the way, it is important to note that almost every tweet that the account posts ends up getting an NSFW link in the comments that has clearly been posted by a bot rather than a real person.

While this account, and many others like it, attempt to mitigate the presence of these bots by hiding comments, it is impossible to obscure them before at least some users view them and potentially even interact with them. Recent bot activity suggests that they are reaching a whole new level, with several retweets on a previous post coming from bot held accounts that participate in inappropriate or NSFW activity.

What’s more, WABetaInfo is frequently contacted by WhatsApp users who need assistance in getting their accounts unblocked. Numerous bots or users with suspicious accounts that seem a bit too much like spam end up replying to these comments. They try to link to Instagram accounts that claim to be able to restore banned accounts for a sum of money, even though such services are notorious for being completely and utterly fraudulent.

Numerous accounts are calling on Twitter to solve this issue because of the fact that this is the sort of thing that could potentially end up getting worse in a relatively short span. The site is being overrun with bots, and the quality of the user experience is beginning to plummet as a result.

Some are suggesting that Twitter allow accounts to limit replies to only those users who have been active for at least a month. Others are calling for DM filters that can prevent inboxes from getting overwhelmed by messages that come from bots. Discord already has a feature that prohibits accounts without verified phone numbers from participating, and this reduced the proportion of spam by as much as 90%.

Twitter would do well to take similar steps, especially given Musk’s bold claims that he will get rid of bots on Twitter once and for all. It will be interesting to see how the platform rises to the challenge now that Musk is giving up his CEO position and bringing Linda Yaccarino in his place. If serious solutions are not proposed, Twitter might see its value in the eyes of advertisers disappearing.

Screenshot: Matt Navarra

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