What are Twitter Bots and How to Spot Them?

By November 13, 2020 No Comments
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Identifying and eliminating Twitter bots has always been a major concern. The past couple of years alone has shown an enormous surge in the number of automated bot accounts on Twitter.

The social media platform Twitter did ban thousands of Twitter bots that violated Twitter’s policies. Although, the booming business of selling automated bot accounts has only increased the number of bot accounts. The banned automated accounts were soon replaced by millions of bot accounts.

The bot accounts can tweet content, interact with users, follow users, or retweet content associated with a specific account or hashtag. It is estimated that over 15% of accounts on Twitter are automated bot accounts.

What is a Twitter bot?

A Twitter bot is a kind of bot software that uses the Twitter API to interact and engage with Twitter users. The Twitter bots can be programmed or automated to perform a specific or series of tasks. It can autonomously tweet, retweet, like, follow, unfollow, or DM other accounts.

Customer support chatbot is a prime example of a Twitter bot. It can help improve the overall customer support experience by improving the response time. Although these Twitter bots do not pretend to be a real person. These bots are set with clear expectations to help them point to the logical steps or call for action.

Here are some of the most useful and amazing bots on Twitter,

  • @BotSentinel: This is a Twitter bot developed to identify and track political bots, troll accounts, and automated bots masquerading as genuine users. It also identifies tweets mentioning fake news posted by inauthentic accounts.

 

  • @HundredZeros: Amazon has a vast collection of amazing ebooks. @HundredZeros is a Twitter bot that frequently recommends amazing ebooks that are free on Amazon. This helps followers and avid readers find great titles to read.

 

  • @MagicRealismBot: Magic realism is quite an amusing Twitter bot that argues the existence and significance of magic in the real world. The tweets posted by this bot are some of the funniest tweets you will find. It takes random day-to-day tasks and expresses them with some magic.

 

  • @DearAssistant: Virtual Assistants (Google Assistant, Siri, Alexa) are now the most used medium to extract relevant information. @DearAssistant is a Twitter bot developed to provide answers to questions like the definition of words, the distance between places, and more.

 

  • @Earthquakbot: When earthquakes happen, they cause massive destruction of life and property. It is best to stay informed and the @Earthquake bot can help you do that. It is designed to tweet about earthquakes that scale up to 5.0 or above on the Richter scale in real-time.

 

  • @TayTweets: @TayTweets is an AI-driven chatterbot that learns more if you interact with it. However, it has posted some very controversial, racist, and sexist memes that resulted in outrage from the community.

 

  • @Netflix_bot: Netflix releases a lot of new video content every month, however, it is hard to keep track of all of these new releases. @Netflix_bot is a bot designed to tweet about the latest releases as soon as they are updated on the platform.

 

  • @nicetipsbot: This an amusing Twitter bot that tweets useful and sometimes very hilarious life tips. The tips range from household cleaning to valuable life lessons.

Twitter Bot Scams

Twitter bot and fake followers scams

While Twitter bots can be a great help in many unique ways, there are cases where they were used unethically and illegally. Let’s discuss some of the most controversial scams related to Twitter bots

Devumi Fake Follower Scam

Devumi a social media marketing company was caught and put under investigation by the US Federal Trade Commission for selling fake Twitter followers. At the time of the investigation, the company was found operating a stock of 3.5 million Twitter bots. The company’s records indicate that it sold its customers over 200 million automated Twitter accounts to boost follower count which in-turn increases influence.

Devumi’s customer base included high-profile clients such as athletes, actors, musicians, writers, motivational speakers, lawyers, and more. Several Hollywood actors and actresses were exposed in this scam. This allowed users to undertake practices that were against the terms of service of Twitter and the FTC Act.

Cryptocurrency Scams

Twitter bots were also used to conduct several cryptocurrency scams. These bots impersonating as actual influential personalities asking for small amounts of cryptocurrency. The accounts impersonated included names like Elon Musk, Warren Buffet, and Vitalik Buterin that promised sizeable future returns.

Eventually, Britain’s Financial Conduct Authority (FCT) has to issue a warning to inform users about scammers using fake celebrity endorsements for cryptocurrency scams. If users clicked on these fake celebrity endorsements links, it would guide them to a genuine-looking website offering crypto-related products.

The 2016 Presidential Election

Donald Trump’s 2016 Presidential Election win was an unexpected outcome and Twitter bots played a huge role in making that happen. Following the third debate, pro-Trump automated bot accounts tweeted over 7x more messages compared to pro-Hillary accounts.

How to Identify Twitter bots?

If you are new to Twitter and have a few hundred followers you can manually analyze your followers to identify Twitter bots. You can look for accounts with uneven follower-following ratio, spammy username accounts, and more.

However, brands and influencers have thousands or even millions of followers and it’s no longer feasible to perform a manual analysis and get accurate results. Brands and influencers need an effective Twitter analytics tool that can help you analyze the quality of your Twitter followers and provide real-time to build an authentic follower-base.

FollowerAudit

FollowerAudit is a paid Twitter analytics tool that can perform a Twitter audit on any public Twitter account. It can help you identify fake followers/bots, inactive accounts, and trolls. It can also help you monitor your Twitter follower growth.

As a brand, you can also identify influencers and analyze their Twitter follower base to choose the right brand advocate to promote your brand.

  • Track Twitter follower growth
  • Get instant notifications on gaining/losing each follower
  • Identify and extract lists of fake followers/bots and inactive accounts
  • Identify trolls bots and spam accounts

Closing Thoughts

Twitter bots can be a great tool to provide useful information, interact with users on your behalf, or even assist in customer support. But Twitter bots pretending to be genuine users do not add value in any way other than boosting your follower count. Cleanse your Twitter follower-base of such accounts to get actual metrics that help in measuring the impact of your strategies with FollowerAudit.

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What are Twitter Bots and How to Spot Them?
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What are Twitter Bots and How to Spot Them?
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What are Twitter Bots and How to Spot Them?
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