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Elon Musk has a huge Twitter following, but 23% of them are fake

Oh, so this is why Elon disputes Twitter’s numbers.

Elon musk and twitter logo
Image: KnowTechie

Elon Musk has a bot problem and it’s not the one you might be thinking of. Researchers at two analyst groups say Elon’s own Twitter following is comprised of more than 23.4 percent fake or spam accounts.

SparkToro and Followerwonk did a deep analysis of five datasets of Twitter users, and the results showed one thing. Using their metrics for fake or spam accounts, Twitter’s problem is higher than the 5-percent quoted by Twitter in its latest earnings report.

The two teams used multiple pieces of data to point to likely spam or fake accounts. That data includes how long the account has been inactive, if the username matches known spam-correlated signals, known spam keywords, and other metrics.

They then took a sample of Twitter users from Followerwonk’s database of over 1 billion users. Then, that randomized dataset went through SparkToro’s Fake Followers tool to create the final dataset.

How did Elon Musk’s followers fare?

Elon musk bitcoin twitter bio tesla
Image: KnowTechie

READ MORE: Twitter has to pay $150 million for misusing people’s phone numbers

Musk’s 93 million followers didn’t fare well under scrutiny. In total, SparkToro says that 70.23 percent of Musk’s follower count “are unlikely to be authentic.

That’s mostly because 69 percent of his followers haven’t tweeted in over 120 days. That inactivity is a big indicator of dormant or fake accounts.

When only Elon Musk’s active followers are analyzed, 23.42 percent are possibly fake accounts. The calculation only included followers who tweeted in the last 90 days.

Graph of estimated fake or spam accounts are on twitter, including analysis of elon musk's followers
Image: SparkToro and Followerwonk

It’s a high percentage, but not far from the analysts’ estimated global average of 19.42 percent. SparkToro does admit that it might not be counting active users that only browse their timelines. They might also not have flagged some more sophisticated spam accounts.

The biggest takeaway from this analysis is that Twitter has more fake accounts than its official five-percent figure. Elon Musk has said that he’s more worried that the bot counting is out by “an order of magnitude.”

That would put Twitter’s fake account problem at potentially 80 percent or more, which would effectively tank Musk’s takeover offer.

Have any thoughts on this? Let us know down below in the comments or carry the discussion over to our Twitter or Facebook.

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Maker, meme-r, and unabashed geek with nearly half a decade of blogging experience. If it runs on electricity (or even if it doesn't), Joe probably has one around his office somewhere. His hobbies include photography, animation, and hoarding Reddit gold.

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