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Twitter Has Even More Active Bots Than We Thought

by Jacob Kleinman | August 12, 2014August 12, 2014 7:00 pm PST

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Twitter just had one of its best quarters ever after adding 16 million new monthly active users, but how many of those accounts are actually automated bots? A new filing from the company reveals the number of active bots on the site increased to 8.5 percent, pushing the total number past 23 million accounts (out of 271 million).

Of course, it’s worth noting that not all Twitter bots are bad. Some serve a useful purpose, pumping out news updates quicker than human hands can manage, while other relay vital information or just serve to amuse us. Twitter bots can be some of the most interesting accounts to follow. You know what you’re getting. Even better, you know it’s one account that will never go off topic.

There’s nothing wrong with Twitter bots in general, at least from a user perspective, but they’re not an additional set of eyeballs that can be sold advertisements, either. The company says five percent of its monthly active users are spam accounts, leaving 3.5 percent (roughly 9.5 million) as the good kind of bot.

It’s another story entirely for Twitter’s advertisers though. Regardless of whether an account is interesting or spammy, it’s only worth anything if there’s a person behind it to bombard with ads. That’s why Twitter still needs to reveal how many of its active accounts are really bots, and that’s why even our favorite automated accounts could be weighing the company down.

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Jacob Kleinman

Jacob Kleinman has been working as a journalist online and in print since he arrived at Wesleyan University in 2007. After graduating, he took a...