To Elon Musk: Why Not Buy Bots?

Photo by Alex Knight Pexels.com

The Elon Musk and Twitter saga keeps me entertained these days. From the initial outrage that a billionaire would dare buy a media company (not that this is unusual)…to the threats of lawsuits…to Twitter’s board’s insistence that Musk must indeed buy Twitter now…do you get the sense that somebody knows how to play this game?

Musk has put his purchase of Twitter on hold until he gets accurate information on bots on Twitter. For anyone who doesn’t know what bots are, well, they are “robots” essentially. In other words, not real people. The way I see it, someone might create 20 “fake” accounts, bots in other words, and then spam Twitter. What is the impact and why would anyone do this? The result is that it looks like some people have way more followers than they actually do, and that some ideas are much more popular or disliked than is the actual case. Why would anyone want to do this? You might be able to come up with a few reasons.

I’ve noted that certain more right wing figures, like for instance Tim Pool and Stephen Crowder, reported on their YouTube channel that within days of Elon Musk requesting information from Twitter about bots, they suddenly had a significant increase in Twitter followers, to the tune of tens of thousands. I’m pretty sure Twitter didn’t create more bots to follow them, because that is not what you do when you are trying to sell a business. Investors don’t want to learn there are more bots, maybe not even that there are bots. Is it possible that Twitter suddenly reinstated accounts it had closed? I don’t know. This would offset bot numbers, I would think, making it look like there was a lower percentage of bots. I’m just following a trail of information breadcrumbs as I try to understand this.

Twitter bosses and employees had a literal melt-down when Elon Musk began to pursue the purchase of Twitter and it’s not difficult to figure out why. Twitter has a lot of power. After all, it de-platformed a sitting president of the USA. To be forced to hand over this power to a billionaire, whose political views might not agree with theirs, well…you can imagine. You can also imagine that the decision to boot Trump off Twitter was not made in a Twitter vacuum. A lot of pressure was put on Twitter and other social media to influence the election in favor of Democrats. As this opinion piece says, “Controlling this public square of political debate has been of immense benefit to Democrats, the media, globalists, and the government bureaucracy.”

Here is a sample of what is going on, taken from a May 16 article by the New York Post, entitled, Elon Musk says Twitter claims ‘bot check’ broke NDA

Elon Musk on Saturday tweeted that Twitter’s legal team accused him of violating a nondisclosure agreement by revealing that the sample size for the social media platform’s checks on automated users was just 100 accounts.

“Twitter legal just called to complain that I violated their NDA by revealing the bot check sample size is 100!” the Tesla CEO tweeted. “This actually happened.”

Shares of Twitter were down by nearly 10% in pre-market trading on Monday.

Musk Musk on Friday tweeted that his $44-billion cash deal to take the company private was “temporarily on hold” while he awaited data on the proportion of its fake accounts.

He said his team would test “a random sample of 100 followers” on Twitter to identify the bots.

When a user asked Musk to “elaborate on process of filtering bot accounts,” he replied: “I picked 100 as the sample size number, because that is what Twitter uses to calculate <5% fake/spam/duplicate.”

I chuckled.

With power potentially shifting it is becoming necessary to shore up media control. CNN found a quote by Tom Wheeler who wrote on Tech Tank at the Brookings Institution where he is a visiting fellow, “The idea that a handful of platforms can continue to make their own behavioral rules even when those decisions harm the public interest is no longer sustainable.”

Until now, the Trump ousters at Twitter have been fairly successful in making decision they consider to be in the “public interest.” But with power slipping out of their hands they are doubling down on efforts to control “misinformation.”

Even Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is now obsessed with controlling information, in the style of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy. Here is another link. Did you know that Ukraine is the first country, according to Wikipedia, to have a Jewish head of state and head of government? I find this interesting because the countries supporting Ukraine against Russia have shown some ambivalence towards Israel, particularly when the American embassy was moved to Jerusalem as recently as 2018, under Trump’s presidency. I know this has nothing to do with bots, but it does have a lot to do with who is influencing who. This one remains a mystery as it doesn’t quite fit the mold, particularly since Ukraine has typically been a Nazi safe haven.

A Yahoo News report states that in addition to shutting down his opposition in parliament, Zelenskyy is “combining all national TV channels, the program content of which consists mainly of information and/or information-analytical programs, [into] a single information platform of strategic communication” to be called “United News.” This is in order to combat Russian misinformation and “tell the truth about the war.”

It amazes me that when the Freedom Convoy of truckers arrived in Ottawa to protest newly implemented vaccine mandates targeting truckers, Prime Minister Trudeau immediately falsely presumed and reported that the Convoy was funded by Russians. He tried to convince Canadians we had an insurrection on our hands, funded by foreigners, and froze the bank accounts of those who donated to truckers who lost their livelihoods as a result of the mandate.

Maybe Trudeau didn’t get the memo that there was no truth to the Russia collusion campaign Hillary Clinton instigated against President Trump. It does make you wonder what will happen if these people muscle their way into information control.

The most recent report on Twitter bots is that bots now represent in the neighbourhood of 20% of Twitter accounts. Oh, dear.