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Millions Of Twitter Accounts Are Faulty

Twitter Admits That 23 Million Users Are Spam Bots

Twitter has admitted that it has detected around 23 million automated accounts that are essentially spamming non-human bots that are posting content ‘artificially’ without any personal input.
The fact that 8.5% of the site’s 270 million active users are in reality nothing more than automated bot accounts will prove irksome for advertisers who invest swathes of money into Twitter campaigns online. Of the 500 million tweets sent daily, much advertising is now falling on dead ears; it means that the effectiveness of marketing strategies will be severely compromised if they are pointlessly reaching out to bot accounts, which spam social media sites with malware and throwaway trending updates.

The Drum reports that the site’s vendetta against spam last year saw ex-bishop Desmond Tutu’s Twitter account being incorrectly blocked during a routine clear-out of accounts. The social network defines spam as ‘posting harmful links’, ‘mass following and unfollowing’ ‘abusing the @ to harass other users’ and ‘creating multiple accounts’ or ‘posting links with unrelated tweets’.

Some bot accounts are permitted, as there are situations where content creating tools have been used to help accounts in a beneficial manner; for example, an Ohio school account was a useful bot for automatically updating users on school delays and closures.

Twitter has sued spam tool TweetAdder for flooding the site with automated content, whilst David Cameron’s account was found to be following thousands of bots and deactivated accounts, most embarrassingly one called ‘I Like Tits Daily’.

The official account became a source of ridicule for following the ‘number one account for hotties with nice boobs’. Vetting official and high profile accounts is a time consuming and vigilant job, as the Pope’s social media and communications advisor has said, and can often end with red-faces all round.

A number 10 spokesman stressed that the Prime Minister does not endorse or support the contents of the smutty Twitter account just because he follows them – there was likely a slip up in the PM’s filters from years back, as automated systems were common place prior to 2009 which re-followed followers to boost the audience during an account’s infancy.

Cameron’s PR team stated that: “As a result of this legacy, the @Number10gov account follows almost 370,000 accounts”. Many of these accounts are charities, politicians and celebrities but the team are working on un-following as many as possible that are inactive, spam or inappropriate.

In April this year a security failure led to Twitter being flooded with malicious posts and spam from thousands of compromised accounts. The typical Twitter spam post takes the same approach and appearance as familiar advertising pitches – e.g. ‘My diet is so much better thanks to this [link]’ – but it is not clear whether the posts are aiming to install malicious software or have other intentions. Facebook has recently been the subject of a series of hacking incidents and spammers, as malicious viruses masquerading as ‘colour changer’ apps or pornography and scare messages.

The fact that spam bots on Twitter are seen as ‘intelligent’ is cause for concern – they can send ads or direct messages according to your online behaviour or private message content.

The problem that Twitter faces is that online security isn’t solely down to the one social network, but in fact security on one site can be compromised by third-party sites or associated apps like the We Heart It social network or Twitter for iPhone app. The potential for online security issues, and the responsibility for treating attacks, lies across many sites’ shoulders as social networks become increasingly intertwined and interdependent.

Recent graduate and now interning as content editor, when she's not writing articles Katie can quite likely be found festival-ing, holiday-ing or reading a book (dedicated English student that she is). Follow her @KatieAtSMF.

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Millions Of Twitter Accounts Are Faulty Reviewed by Anonymous on Thursday, August 14, 2014 Rating: 5
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