Almost half of President Joe Biden’s 22.3 million Twitter followers are fake. The findings were reported by Newsweek on Tuesday, citing an analysis from SparkToro. The same measure was used by Elon Musk to suspend his acquisition of the social media giant.
SparkToro, which operates an identification tool “fake” Twitter accounts of genuine followers, checked the official @POTUS account and found that 49.3% were inauthentic. The screening process considers several factors, from activity data to profile photos, to determine if there’s a real person behind each account. The share of bots following Biden is higher than for most accounts, the company said.
Billionaire Elon Musk last week suspended his acquisition of the platform for $44 billion, saying the company was wrong when it said less than 5% of Twitter accounts were “spam/fake”. He claimed the actual percentage was closer to 20 and said the takeover price he was offering shareholders was based on the company’s estimate and an adjustment was needed.
Musk and Twitter CEO Parag Agrawal exchanged a series of tweets about the issue, with the executive touting Twitter’s effectiveness in removing inauthentic accounts from the platform. Twitter suspends 500,000 fake accounts a day “usually before you even see them” and locks millions every week on suspicion of sending spam, Agrawal said.
We suspend over half a million spam accounts every day, usually before you even see them on Twitter. We also lock millions of accounts every week that we suspect are spam – if they can’t pass human verification challenges (captchas, phone verification, etc.).
– Parag Agrawal (@paraga) May 16, 2022
SparkToro said Musk’s assessment is accurate, based on their findings from a sample of some 44,000 active public Twitter accounts. They classified almost a fifth as false.
The metric can vary significantly depending on whether inactive users are excluded from the sample. SparkToro also turned its attention to Musk’s followers and found that 23.42% of active accounts and 70.23% of all accounts that subscribed to his posts were bots. Newsweek did not say whether the sample of Biden subscribers the company analyzed was screened for activity.
Friday, @Elon Musk said its deal to acquire Twitter was on hold pending an analysis of “spam/fake” accounts. We have now completed an analysis of 44,058 public Twitter accounts that tweeted in the past 90 days. 19.42% are probably spam or fake. Details: https://t.co/5CfKab0FAY
—Rand Fishkin (@randfish) May 15, 2022
A 2018 SparkToro analysis of then-President Donald Trump’s personal account, @realDonaldTrump, found that of the 54 million followers he had at the time, 61% appeared to be fake. Trump has since been de-platformed by Twitter.
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