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Twitter acknowledges 23 million active users are actually bots

12 August 2014, 2:18 pm EDT By Judy Mottl Tech Times
An SEC filing reveals that 8.5 percent of Twitter's user base are bots. The site acknowledges another 5 percent are spam bots. That's likely not music to the ears of those advertising on the micro blogging network.  ( Andy Melton/Wikimedia Commons )

Bots and spam bots account for nearly 14 percent of Twitter's user base, and that's not a good thing for Twitter, Twitter users and obviously advertisers.

Twitter claims to have 271 million active user accounts but over 23 million aren't real people tweeting about real things. They're essentially Twitter spam, similar to email spam, as a report explains.

The reveal came in a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission. It notes that approximately 23 million users are bots programmed to issue Tweets at particular points of the day or when something unique takes place.

As one report reveals bots aren't bad necessarily, and may even be found useful. Bots don't pose any security issue, just more of an annoyance issue as they're used to pump up follower numbers or create hype around a new product. But a they are bots, not people and eyeballs, it could be something advertisers are clearly are interested in.

The figure represents 8.5 percent of the total user base. Twitter also acknowledged that another 5 percent are spam bots. Spam bots, however, are not useful to anyone.

Prior to the bot figure news, Twitter had come under scrutiny regarding the definition of 'active user' in its reporting figures as statistics showed that while new users were climbing on to tweet, many  'users' actually hadn't used the service in months or at all after initial signup.

The eight-year-old micro blogging site recently took top place in The Online Trust Alliance's 2014 Online Trust Honor Roll for data privacy online.

Its quarterly financial report in May was a mixed bag, as earnings doubled compared to a year ago but shares took a dive to an all-time low thanks to lower than expected new sign-ups. In addition engagement on Twitter took a tumble, dipping 8 percent.

A big culprit, according to Twitter, is the ease of use, or lack of ease, for newbies trying the service.

The goal ahead,  said Twitter, is to try and simplify tweeting and help users understand how best to use the service. Some reports claim Twitter is considering getting rid of hashtags and the @ symbol due to the confusing nature they present.

In April Twitter redesigned its user home page and many reviewers noted it resembled a mix of Facebook meets Google.

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