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Twitter, over 80% of accounts likely to be bots, former FBI specialist claims

As the Twitter and Elon Musk’s legal teams prep up for legal battle, worth a whopping $44 billion deal, the two parties’ conflict is actually based on a key issue: Twitter bots.

Twitter has maintained that circa 5% of its users are spam or fake accounts, even in its filings to the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).

Musk tweeted on Woods’ findings


An estimate from Dan Woods, the Global Head of Intelligence at F5 and a former FBI special agent specializing in cybersecurity, suggests that Musk’s claim are  spot-on.

In a post, Woods, who also worked for the CIA as a technical operations officer specializing in cyber operations, estimated that over 80% of Twitter’s accounts are actually bots. Woods was able to come to this conclusion after analyzing the social media platform and its countermeasures against automated accounts.

“When I consider the volume and velocity of automation we’re seeing today, the sophistication of bots that a given set of incentives is likely to attract, and the relative lack of countermeasures I saw in my own research, I can only come to one conclusion: In all likelihood, more than 80% of Twitter accounts are actually bots. This, of course, is my opinion,” Woods wrote.

The former FBI agent noted that bots are generally designed to accomplish a goal.

In Twitter’s case, a key goal is to gain followers.

More followers mean that an account becomes more influential, which could potentially be a security risk. What’s interesting is that there’s a means to get bots for Twitter, with countless entities offering Twitter accounts, followers, likes, and retweets for a fee. Some are even offered in the dark or deep web.

For research purposes, Woods tried these services on a Twitter account he created.

The former FBI agent paid less than $1,000, but the account has now gained almost 100,000 followers. Woods even tried posting straight gibberish and paying a fee to have his followers retweet it — and they did. With this experience in mind, Woods took his tests further, and the results were pretty damning for Twitter’s anti-bot measures.

“I began to wonder how easy it would be to create a Twitter account using automation. I am not a programmer, but I researched automation frameworks Turns out, it’s easy.

“I wrote a script that automatically creates Twitter accounts. My rather unsophisticated script was not blocked by any countermeasures. I didn’t try to change my IP address or user agent or do anything to conceal my activities, Woods wrote.


source: F5/Elon tweet/Teslarati
Image: Twitter