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Twitter insists it has bots handled, claims it blocks 1 million spammers every day

Twitter insists it has bots handled, claims it blocks 1 million spammers every day


Its latest answer to Elon Musk’s allegations

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Illustration by Michele Doying / The Verge

Twitter told reporters on Thursday that it kicks over 1 million spam accounts off of its platform a day, according to a report from Reuters. That’s double the number CEO Parag Agrawal stated in a May Twitter thread, though the company maintains its long-held position that bots make up less than 5 percent of its active user base. The number of spam accounts and how Twitter deals with them has become a sticking point in recent months, as Elon Musk threatened to back away from his buyout of the company citing concerns the company is downplaying the scale of the problem.

In May, Agrawal tweeted about spam to discuss the situation “with the benefit of data, facts, and context.” In the thread, he said the platform suspends “over half a million spam accounts every day” and that it locks “millions of accounts each week” it suspects to be spam. He also explained how Twitter got its 5 percent number, saying that it came from “multiple human reviews (in replicate) of thousands of accounts, that are sampled at random, consistently over time.” The reviews also use private account data, such as the user’s IP address and location.

Twitter didn’t immediately respond to The Verge’s request for comment on whether Thursday’s metric is an update to these numbers or if it’s counting something different. According to The Guardian, Twitter’s latest figure includes users that aren’t allowed to make accounts and, as such, are never counted as users.

Twitter and Musk struck a deal for the latter to buy out the company in April to the tune of $44 billion. In May, though, Musk tweeted that the deal was “on hold,” alleging that Twitter’s user base could be 20 percent bots or more. He asked the company to prove that the 5 percent number it had reported was accurate and, in June, accused the company of withholding information, saying it was “transparently refusing to comply with its obligations under the merger agreement.”

Agrawal has said that, outside of the company, it’s hard to meaningfully do calculations on the number of bots or tell who’s counted in Twitter’s reports on monetizable daily active users.

Twitter has said it’s trying to provide “data, facts, and context” about spam accounts

Twitter has responded to Musk’s allegations before. In June, the company said it would give him access to the “firehose” API that basically acts as a stream of all the tweets posted to the platform so he could run his own analysis. About a month after Agrawal’s thread about spam, the company announced it was rolling out an overhauled version of its reporting system, which lets users flag accounts that may belong to spammers.