Annoyed by the spammy Twitter bots? Well, the Tesla CEO Elon Musk certainly has plans on how to deal with them, once should he succeed in his takeover of Twitter. In a post on the platform, Musk wrote on April 22, “If our Twitter bid succeeds, we will defeat the spam bots or die trying!” He added that he would “authenticate all real humans” as well.
Elon Musk had already confirmed that he has managed to secure $46.5 billion to fund his Twitter acquisition. He had announced last week that he would buy the social company for $54.20 per share, or about $43 billion. He had also said he would take the company private.
In the latest documents filed with the US SEC, Musk has floated a tender offer to buy all of Twitter’s common stock. Musk already owns around 9 per cent of Twitter shares. He was offered a seat on the board, but he declined. Instead, he has staged a full-blown takeover of the company with the Twitter board resisting Musk’s offers so far.
What are Twitter bots?
Bot accounts are fairly common on Twitter and no, not all bot accounts are bad or just taking part in spam. Bots refer to automated accounts and Twitter defines good bots as those accounts that “help people find useful, entertaining and relevant information every day”. This could range from notifying people of traffic updates to weather updates to even helping users with Covid-19 updates, as was the case during the pandemic.
Twitter has also started adding a label to some bot accounts, to will give people additional information about the bot, “and help them decide which accounts to follow, engage with, and trust.”
However, the usage of bots has also raised concerns around worries of platform manipulation and of course, spam as well. Twitter has in the past addressed the issue. In a previous blog the company had said that very often the term bot is often used “mischaracterize accounts with numerical usernames that are auto-generated when your preference is taken, and more worryingly, as a tool by those in positions of political power to tarnish the views of people who may disagree with them or online public opinion that’s not favourable.”
But where Twitter draws the line with bots is around malicious behaviour and platform manipulation. Accounts that use automation to “undermine and disrupt the public conversation, like trying to get something to trend” are in violation of the platform’s policies. Further, Twitter says bots that are used for “Artificial amplification of conversations”, which indulge in “generating, soliciting, or purchasing fake engagements” or those that engage in “bulk or aggressive tweeting, engaging or following” are in violation of its policies. Hashtag cramming is also considered a violation.
Twitter has also said in the past that it “permanently suspends millions of accounts every month that are automated or spammy.” But clearly, Elon Musk doesn’t think what Twitter is doing is good enough right now and is determined to solve the problem should he get control of the company.