Inauthentic Twitter accounts, known colloquially as bots, operate to mimic human interaction on the platform in order to achieve a specific goal.
Some were designed to give people immediate data on things like the stock market and traffic updates, while others were used for more sinister applications such as spreading misinformation online or scamming people out of money.
Roughly 11 million followers of the US president’s official Twitter handle, @POTUS, are either bots or inactive accounts, according to an analysis by Spark Toro.
That’s 49.3 percent of Biden’s total followers on his White House account.
Spark Toro’s metric takes into account ‘accounts that are unreachable and will not see the account’s tweets (either because they’re spam, bots, propaganda, etc. or because they’re no longer active on Twitter).’
Biden’s old boss, former President Barack Obama, was the first commander-in-chief to use the @POTUS account as a way to connect directly to millions of Americans online.
When he left office, the account was transferred to former President Donald Trump. Obama’s was archived under @POTUS44.
An audit of ex-President Donald Trump’s archived presidential account, @POTUS45, shows that 42.4 percent of its followers are fake. His personal handle cannot be audited because Spark Toro’s metrics do not factor suspended accounts.
Elon Musk took a shot at President Joe Biden at a conference in Miami on Tuesday, telling the All In podcast hosts that he will be voting for a Republican in 2024
But Biden’s personal Twitter account doesn’t fare much better than the presidential handle.
More than 32 million people follow the president at @JoeBiden, 43 percent of which are reportedly fake.
It’s more fake followers than those linked to the @POTUS account – approximately 14.6 million.
Twitter has about 229 million daily users, according to the company’s own data. The platform has long held that no more than five percent of its accounts are bots or spam.
Musk challenged that assertion on Tuesday, claiming as many as 20 percent of Twitter accounts are inauthentic and accusing CEO Parag Agrawal of refusing to show proof of the company’s five percent claim.
‘My offer was based on Twitter’s SEC filings being accurate. Yesterday, Twitter’s CEO publicly refused to show proof of <5%,’ Musk wrote on Twitter.
He threatened: ‘This deal cannot move forward until he does.’
An analysis found that more than 11 million followers of Biden’s official @POTUS Twitter handle are either fake or inactive
Late last month Twitter announced its board had reached a deal with the billionaire engineer for him to take the site private.
He had bought the entire platform for $54.20 per share, totaling roughly $44 billion.
But Musk reasserted his concerns about Twitter’s bot activity at Miami’s All In Summit later on Tuesday, claiming it ‘seems beyond unreasonable’ that at least 95 percent of accounts are authentic.
He also took aim at assertions that he was mounting a ‘right-wing takeover’ of Twitter, blasting the site as having a ‘very far left bias.’
Musk also saved a jab for Biden himself – suggesting the Democrat will not have Musk’s support in 2024.
‘I have voted overwhelmingly for Democrats historically. I might never have voted for a Republican, just to be clear,’ he said. ‘Now this election, I will.’
Twitter share prices fell by 8.2 percent after Musk’s comments.
Analysts had claimed his statements could be an attempt by Musk to try to lower the price or pull out of the deal.
But Twitter quashed that today by saying they had filed a preliminary proxy statement with the SEC saying they intend the deal to go ahead at the agreed price of $54.20.
The Tesla CEO, who last month offered $44billion for the tech platform, disputes their claims that bots represent around five per cent of their users
Shares closed Monday at $37.39. In pre-market trading today, they continued the slump to $36.20
The company submitted the document, which updates the SEC about important changes ahead of shareholder meetings, saying they were committed to completing the deal at the agreed price and terms ‘as promptly as practicable.’
One of those terms also includes a billion-dollar breakup clause for Musk if he chooses to walk away from the deal.
The surprise tweet about Twitter’s bot activity caused stocks to continue their nosedive since his deal was announced, as analysts speculated that Musk is trying to negotiate a lower price for the deal or pull out completely.
Though Twitter’s board agreed to the purchase last month, it still has not been approved by shareholders, and was not expected to close for at least several months. The legal and practical implications of Musk’s tweets remain unclear.
Shares closed Monday at $37.39, continuing the downward trend.
On Friday, they opened at $40.40, in a huge slump after Musk’s morning announcement that his deal was on hold pending the probe into bot accounts.
‘You can’t pay the same price for something that is much worse than they claimed,’ Musk told the Miami summit.
Asked if the deal is viable at a different price, Musk said, ‘I mean, it is not out of the question. The more questions I ask, the more my concerns grow.’