The Twitter deal seems to be a gift that keeps giving, but not for the folks at Twitter, or so it seems. After more than a month of announcing a takeover with a $44-billion deal, Elon Musk and his offering stands on slippery grounds. Last week, the billionaire put the deal on hold after a report on Twitter’s spam accounts was released. Following the report on Twitter’s spam, Musk also claimed that he will look to lower the price of the deal. Also Read - India revises rules for social media companies to protect users’ rights: Here are the details
Twitter CEO Parag Agarwal took to the micro-blogging platform to explain the occurrence of bots on the platform and explained how they try to counter this menace. In response, Elon Musk shared his dissatisfaction about the data that was released by the management of the micro-blogging platform. In an earlier report, Twitter claimed that it has less than 5 percent bot/spam accounts on its platform. However, Musk seems to strongly disagree as that’s when he put the deal on hold. Also Read - Elon Musk threatens of walking away from $44 billion Twitter deal: Here’s why
In a rather long thread of tweets, Agarwal explains that spam negatively impacts the user experience. He explained that spam is not just ‘binary’(human / not human). In his tweet he said, “The most advanced spam campaigns use combinations of coordinated humans + automation. They also compromise real accounts, and then use them to advance their campaign. So – they are sophisticated and hard to catch.” Also Read - Microsoft, Amazon come to Tesla Employees' rescue after Elon Musk wants them to return to office
Elon responded to Parag by asking about how advertisers are impacted by the bots. In response to one of the tweets by Parag, Musk said, “So how do advertisers know what they’re getting for their money? This is fundamental to the financial health of Twitter.”
Let’s talk about spam. And let’s do so with the benefit of data, facts, and context…
— Parag Agrawal (@paraga) May 16, 2022
Parag explained that fighting spam is not as easy as some expect. Agarwal claimed that fighting spam is
incredibly dynamic. He said that they can’t build a set of rules to detect spam today, and hope that those rules will still work tomorrow.
Giving some quantifiable evidence, Parag Agarwal said that Twitter suspends over half a million spam accounts every day. They also claim to lock millions of accounts each week that they suspect may be spam. The condition is that they can’t pass human verification challenges (captchas, phone verification, etc).
Agarwal stated, “The hard challenge is that many accounts which look fake superficially – are actually real people. And some of the spam accounts which are actually the most dangerous – and cause the most harm to our users – can look totally legitimate on the surface.”
He assured that the Twitter team updates their systems and rules constantly to remove as much spam as possible, without inadvertently suspending real people or adding unnecessary friction for real people when they use Twitter.
Agarwal acknowledged that they know they aren’t perfect at catching spam. He claimed that the platform measures spam internally. And every quarter,they have estimated that <5% of reported accounts are spam.
Musk claimed that he would like to conduct his own survey on Twitter to determine the number of bots and spam on the platform. He claimed that he will use the same sample size as Twitter, which is randomly selecting 100 accounts.
Parag claimed that the they don’t believe that this specific estimation can be performed externally, given the critical need to use both public and private information. Twitter can’t share internal information for safety and privacy purposes. He stated, “externally, it’s not even possible to know which accounts are counted as mDAUs on any given day.”