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Nick Bilton Reveals Twitter’s Dirty Secret

By Vanity Fair

Twitter knew about all its fake followers, and always has—eliminating just enough bots to make it seem like they care, but not enough that it would affect the perceived number of active users on thRead full story

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  • Peter Green
    Peter GreenFounder at FoodMakers.NYC

    This is a cogent and important explanation of why Twitter won't kill bots. The bots vastly inflate the number of users on the platform, and without those inflated numbers, Twitter's reach and consequently its ad revenue would be far lower. But it also raises the question of how long this apparent scam can last. At some point, somewhere, some kid is going to point out that emperor has no clothes. That may take time.

    But it seems the legal implications are pretty clear: Twitter is committing fraud

    This is a cogent and important explanation of why Twitter won't kill bots. The bots vastly inflate the number of users on the platform, and without those inflated numbers, Twitter's reach and consequently its ad revenue would be far lower. But it also raises the question of how long this apparent scam can last. At some point, somewhere, some kid is going to point out that emperor has no clothes. That may take time.

    But it seems the legal implications are pretty clear: Twitter is committing fraud. Advertisers have a good case, stat attorney generals may, too. And Congress may have more questions for Twitter about Russian and other bots in the 2016 election. Who else bought bots and did that sway the vote? Was that legal? I don’t think we’ve seen the end of this.

  • Taichi Fukai
    Taichi FukaiStudent at Waseda University

    < Twitter >

    While I totally see the point made by Mr Green, my prediction is that this will take a slow and quiet end--as with now-defunct internet services in the past. There is no guarantee that Twitter will not face any accusations of fraudulent behaviour, but its already-shrinking--or at least decreasing in growth--user base will simply decrease the value of followers. Advertisers already realize that there is no point in paying affiliate fees to users with "fake followers." Extrapolating from

    < Twitter >

    While I totally see the point made by Mr Green, my prediction is that this will take a slow and quiet end--as with now-defunct internet services in the past. There is no guarantee that Twitter will not face any accusations of fraudulent behaviour, but its already-shrinking--or at least decreasing in growth--user base will simply decrease the value of followers. Advertisers already realize that there is no point in paying affiliate fees to users with "fake followers." Extrapolating from this assertion, we can assume that the per follower value of accounts will decrease and accounts will be scrutinized at harsher standards, eventually leading to a slow and painful demise of Twitter.

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