Former FBI Agent Confirms Elon Musk's Claim of Undercounting Bot Accounts on Twitter by Conducting His Own Research

Former FBI Agent Confirms Elon Musk's Claim of Undercounting Bot Accounts on Twitter by Conducting His Own Research

A former FBI agent confirms Elon Musk's claim that the number of bot accounts on Twitter is underestimated. After doing his own research, he came to the conclusion that more than 80% of Twitter accounts are bots.

The acquisition of Twitter by Elon Musk is a hotly debated topic. It gained even more publicity due to the fact that the buyer refused the deal, and the main reason for this was the platform’s false statement about the number of bot accounts on it. A recent complaint from whistleblower Peiter Zatko only confirmed Musk's concerns and added more facts to fight for the deal to be dropped.

Now, new information has surfaced that has raises even more concerns about the way Twitter operates and its policies. In a blog post, Global Head of Intelligence at F5, former FBI agent specializing in cybersecurity, Dan Woods, suggested that Musk's claim that the platform downgrades the number of Twitter bot accounts is correct. He was able to come to this conclusion after analyzing the social media platform and its countermeasures against auto-created accounts.

Woods' conclusion is very disappointing: over 80% of Twitter accounts are bots:

“When I consider the volume and velocity of automation we're seeing today, the sophistication of bots that a given set of incentives is likely to attract, and the relative lack of countermeasures I saw in my own research, I can only come to one conclusion: In all likelihood, more than 80% of Twitter accounts are actually bots. This, of course, is my opinion.”

Woods pointed out that creating Twitter bots is an easy task, as the platform does not actually counteract this, even at a rudimentary level. This stimulates the flourishing of services that create such bot accounts and uses them to make money or achieve their own goals. For research purposes, Woods used such services and stated that for less than $1,000, he received almost 100,000 followers to the account he created.

In addition, he himself decided to create automated bot accounts to see how easy it was. With little knowledge, Woods wrote a very simple script that created Twitter accounts. He used absolutely no protective measures to somehow hide his actions. However, even with the simplicity and indiscretion of his research scam, Twitter has taken no action to counteract the program's work. The former FBI agent emphasizes that even if a person with limited skills can achieve this, then for organizations with specialists, it will not be difficult at all.

“Taking my testing to the next level, over a weekend, I wrote a script that automatically creates Twitter accounts. My rather unsophisticated script was not blocked by any countermeasures. I didn't try to change my IP address or user agent or do anything to conceal my activities. If it's that easy for a person with limited skills, imagine how easy it is for an organization of highly skilled, motivated individuals.”

© 2022, Eva Fox | Tesmanian. All rights reserved.


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Article edited by @SmokeyShorts; follow him on Twitter

About the Author

Eva Fox

Eva Fox

Eva Fox joined Tesmanian in 2019 to cover breaking news as an automotive journalist. The main topics that she covers are clean energy and electric vehicles. As a journalist, Eva is specialized in Tesla and topics related to the work and development of the company.

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