Twitter is hit hard from fake accounts. Now more than ever it’s becoming more and more apparent that click bots are infiltrating the web.

new study done by the University of Southern California and Indiana University revealed that up to 15% of all accounts on Twitter are actually bots, not real human beings.

What does this mean?

Likes, retweets, and followers may not be reflective of a human following, which can really hurt engagement.

It’s no secret Twitter has been struggling to keep up with other social media giants like Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat. So this news does not bode well for them.

Study Revealed

In order to identify these non-human accounts on Twitter, the researchers used over a thousand different features. These features used specific categories that included friends, the average time between tweets, network patterns, tweet sentiment, content and other metrics.

Researchers concluded that “our estimates suggest between 9% and 15% of active Twitter accounts are bots”.

To date, Twitter has 319 million monthly users, which means that roughly 48 million users are automated click bots, designed to fraudulent boost engagement.

Additionally, the report notes that some bots are complex enough to act human and fool the system, so it’s unclear as to how accurate this percentage truly is.

An interesting take away from the study is that many of these fake accounts tweeted about political matters.

In fact, First Monday, a science journal reported that Twitter bot accounts contributed to 19% of all election tweets or 3.8 million to be exact during September 16 and October 21, 2016.

Take a second to stop and think. How much of the 2016 election buzz was coming from real accounts?

According To Twitter

8.5% of all active accounts are “…without any discernible additional user-initiated action.” according to Twitter. This is based on a filing Twitter did with the SEC last month.

Do the math…that’s a difference of over 20 million users.

When talking about bots, it’s important to note there are both good and bad bots. According to a Twitter spokesperson “many bot accounts are extremely beneficial, like those that automatically alert people of natural disasters…or from customer service points of view.”

Therefore, these numbers may not be as suboptimal as they may appear.

Twitter is an Internet Sheriff who is making serious efforts to hone in on these abusive accounts, but this study is truly cause for concern.

Final Thoughts

Before launching your next Twitter campaign, keep these findings in mind. Bot accounts can not only negatively affect customer engagement but also hurt your advertising budget ROI.

At ClickCease, we provide a solution for click fraud. Since there is a growing number of bots and malicious activity, make sure you consider these red flags before launching your next PPC campaign.

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