back to article One in 12 Tweeps are bots

In its latest SEC filing, Twitter has enumerated what its users have long believed: a small but significant slab of its accounts aren't humans. According to the filing, Twitter says it's created a “new metric that is comprised of only such active users” that run updates “when there was no discernible user action involved”. In …

  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    so they doubled their revenue and quadrupled their loss?

    They should stop while they're ahead.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "... @theregister blends automated and real live human emissions"


  3. frank ly


    I think the word 'tweeps' should be reserved for tweets from peeps.

    1. Charlie Clark Silver badge

      Re: Tweeps?

      The collective for users of the service is quite clearly "twats".

      1. Khaptain Silver badge

        Re: Tweeps?

        My personal favorite is Twunt.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Once you get past the Beliebers, One Directioners, the inane reality TV 'celebrities', those who are simply famous for being famous and the often racist / sexist parody accounts of real people oh and the trolls there really isn't a great deal of worthwhile accounts.

    Classic example of where it falls down for me. Something happens you click on a trend and the results are just hundreds of thousands of people posting the same link to an article or the same photo either via a RT or trying to pass it off as their own. Another classic example Robin Williams dies and you click on his hashtag to be inundated with people telling you how they are heartbroken they'll never see him on stage with that fat tax avoiding git and the rest of the pub singers.

  5. Charlie Clark Silver badge


    I'd like to say I'm getting sick of stories about Twitter but I've always found them depressing. It's sort of proof of our decadence. That the media love it just confirms the sense of "dogs around vomit".

    However, I do think that there is something in the underlying restriction on the length of messages. A great many people it seems have the need to spurt inanities, or to "emote" and Twitter makes this pretty easy. Still don't really see the business model beyond fairly spurious demographic information. Maybe if they raised the bar slightly they'd get more reliable information for marketeers.

    1. Khaptain Silver badge

      Re: Sigh

      The problem with raising the bar, even by only a few IQ points, is that you lose 98% of your "product".

      From the remaining 2% you would then lose the professionals because their market has disapparead, thereby leaving about 0.00001%.

      Basically you would be left with Twitter staff and a few of their friends....

      I tried Twitter a long time ago in order to understand what it was all about; result, I understood that it had no real purpose so I simply signed of. I just hope that RSS remains with us for some time yet.

  6. LucreLout Silver badge

    Is Twitter still used then?

    I came to the obvious and early conclusion that it'll be used almost exclusively by tw@ts. Mostly of the media studies variety.

  7. Elmer Phud

    A breath of fresh air

    Well, at least a pause from the usual similar cut-n-paste Facebook comments.

    What is the Next Big Thing and how long before it draws the same comments?

  8. Nigel Whitfield.

    A plague of bots

    I've noticed on one of my accounts that over the last month or so, I have been acquiring obviously fake followers at the rate of around a dozen a day. All but one or two have the coloured egg icon, zero tweets and followers, and are following around 200 people.

    And, without exception, this particular plague all has obviously made-up french names, like Julienne Poisson, Fabienne Champagne, Isaac Meilleur or Arnou Couture from today's crop. Mysterious - but at least it's easy to just block them before they can do anything else.

    As to the obligatory "It's rubbish and I'm so far above such trivial things that I'll make up a silly name for everyone who uses [social service X that I disdain]" posts, like any of these things, it's what you make of it. I run a large club, and we use a mostly automated feed to remind people of the events we organise around the world, as well as those of similar organisations. Not a whiff of Bieber about it.

    1. Wibble

      Re: A plague of bots

      > I run a large club, and we use a mostly automated feed to remind people of the events we organise

      Why not simply email them?

      1. Nigel Whitfield.

        Re: A plague of bots

        Because some people don't like being subscribed to mailing lists, and having to give that information to an organisation, and then trusting that their details will be safe. Many people feel that following a Twitter account involves giving up less about them that handing over an email address.

        We do in fact do email reminders, both for people who are members of the club, and for non-members who do choose to register with us for information; we list upcoming events on the main landing page of the site, we have a public events calendar, we have the automated twitter feed, and we post reminders on a Facebook page too. Some of the event posters are also distributed via Tumblr.

        In short, there's more than one way of reaching people; some people choose to find out about our events just via email. Others just via Twitter or Facebook. Some might get the emails, but also appreciate the reminder that automatically goes out via Twitter on the day of an event.

        All the methods have their own pros and cons; potential visitors use a range of different online platforms. Rather than saying "if you want to find out, you must sign up to our list" we instead choose to make the info available on the platforms they use. That seems eminently sensible to me.

        1. Charlie Clark Silver badge

          Re: A plague of bots

          Anything wrong with RSS for anonymous subscriptions?

          1. Nigel Whitfield.

            Re: A plague of bots

            Not particularly, I suppose, but equally it's not something anyone's ever specifically asked us for. It would be easy enough to code, but I think the problem with RSS for something like that is probably discoverability - it's relatively easy to find our events via the appropriate hashtags, and for them to be shared by people, and I'm not sure that RSS is really a good solution in this case (especially as a lot of the people are decidedly non-techy; they 'get' things like Twitter or FB and use them anyway).

            I suspect a lot of people would say "whuh?" if I suggested it in this case, whereas if it was notifcations of booze-ups for Reg readers, it might indeed make more sense to provide an RSS option. As ever, it's a case of going where the users are.

  9. Stretch

    These estimates are very low. I would say more like 80%+ are bots/unused/spam accounts.

  10. Wibble

    Tried it once, didn't like it

    I thought it would be great to give twitter a go during the opening ceremony of the Olympics; an excellent opportunity to get the back-chatter to a massive event.

    What a load of utter crap. Spammers a spamming; so much off-topic nonsense. Worse of all was all the PR twonks pushing their client du jour (in this case something called one dimension - I believe it's some form of exploitation of children).

    Since then I've never found an urge to waste more time.

    And I'm posting here. Hmm.

  11. phil dude
    Black Helicopters


    how about a perfect DynDns replacement. You tweet your ip address when online and encrypted, then other machines that can decrypt your IP can find you...

    Wait, haven't I seen this before...?


  12. Stuart Castle


    Surprised at the number of people looking down their noses at what can be a useful tool. For instance a lot of companies, including all the train companies and a lot of other transport companies, push out updates via Twitter..

    That said, my membership of twitter is purely so I can "Follow" these companies. I don't actually tweet. As such, my twitter account is purely a handy list of "bookmarks".

    Twitter has a huge amount of twats on it though. I remember during the riots looking for news about Bromley. According to twitter, Primark was blown up and utterly obliterated seven times during the night. When a journalist got up the next morning, photographed the intact (and undamaged apart from a smashed window) Primark and uploaded the photo, he got threats of legal action.

    1. Nigel Whitfield.

      Re: Twitter...

      Arguably, the whole internet has a huge number of twats on it, and more or less always has. I remember back in the late 80s, people complaining on Usenet about the annual influx of new students, posting rubbish and breaching netiquette at the start of each academic year.

      And then it was the complaints about people who got access through AOL...

      Arguably, you could say that, given the high number of systems spewing out spam, internet email is pretty infested with bots these days too; despite filtering, I probably get a lot more spam that way than though any other service I use online.

      It's fashionable in some quarters (see, for example, the comments on newspaper websites too) for people to protest loudly about how they don't see the point of one social service or another. I think the one great egalitarian thing the internet has ensured is that almost everyone can easily find another category of person on whom they can look down with a sneer.

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