What is a Twitter bot and why did it cause Twitter to change their rules?
A Twitter bot is a type of bot software that controls a Twitter account via the Twitter API. The bot software may autonomously perform actions such as tweeting, re-tweeting, liking, following, unfollowing, or direct messaging other accounts. The automation of Twitter accounts is governed by a set of automation rules that outline proper and improper uses of automation. Proper usage includes broadcasting helpful information, automatically generating interesting or creative content, and automatically replying to users via direct message. Improper usage includes circumventing API rate limits, violating user privacy, or spamming.
Zack Whittaker states in his article Twitter has a spam bot problem — and it’s getting worse, that a lot of accounts on Twitter is actually fake. These can easily be identified by the garbled usernames and empty profile pictures.
But what is the purpose of these fake accounts?
The most common motive is to artificially promote a website, for example a cheap dating site. Because in this way they can gain from a pay-per-click campaign, or otherwise spam users with links that might redirect to pornographic material.
So, how does this work?
The spammer sets up thousands of fake Twitter accounts, and these then follow a few dozen high profile celebrities, experts or influencers. The fake accounts are set up to follow other fake accounts. This process then creates an artificial sense of credibility for these accounts, making it easier for users to click on the shared links.
But the most important reason for Twitter’s new rules, is how fake accounts and spam bots has influenced the 2016 US Elections, by publishing trash posts about the two leading candidates.
So we can see that fake accounts is all about power, influence, propaganda and promoting spam links or hashtags for their own agendas.
Statistics obtained from Twitter’s Great Bot Purge And Can We Really Trust Active User Numbers? and As many as 48 million Twitter accounts aren’t people, says study (201703)