Tens of millions of Twitter’s hundreds of millions of accounts are potentially operated automatically by bots, the company said in an SEC filing.
Copyright 2014 Reuters
In a new filing with the SEC, Twitter says that “up to approximately 8.5%” of “active” accounts are updated automatically “without any discernible additional user-initiated action.” That means that potentially 23 million of Twitter’s 271 million monthly active users are bots, according to Quartz.
Of 974 million Twitter accounts, about 44% have never tweeted, according to an April report from Twopcharts, which tracks Twitter account activity. Twitter said it had 241 million monthly active users — someone who logs in at least once a month, but who might not tweet — in the last quarter of 2013.
Spam accounts account for about 5% of Twitter’s total accounts — or about 13.5 million — the company estimates — likely meaning the majority of bots are “spambots.” Many of Twitter’s bot accounts represent brands, monuments, buildings and other inanimate objects.
Essentially, bots are programs that issue tweets automatically, the contents of which are dictated by algorithms, using Twitter’s application programming interface (API). Some are designed to report events such as earthquakes.