Twitter has a total of 500 million users and 4 percent of them are fake.
A perennial problem for social media sites is fake users. As social media sites expand, the profitability of spamming and or creating fake users grows. It’s usually not a problem until bots mess up the engagement metrics and users can’t enjoy the social networking experience. Facebook recently announced that a large portion of its users were fake and recently the New York Times said Twitter has 20 million fake users meaning 4 % of accounts aren’t real. Does this actually matter?
Yes. In the world of high stakes advertising, fake users on a social media network can skew advertising dollars to be spent in the wrong way. Fake Twitter accounts are also a problem if an advertiser is purchasing ads from Twitter but the engagement measurements are based on a population that is off by a few percentage points. Wasteful ad spending hurts advertisers and forces them to consider other options which is why Facebook was right to announce the problem with fake accounts to stay ahead of the issue.
Twitter has a unique problem that Facebook does not have. Twitter collects little information from people who start an account and many accounts are not the ‘real’ person they say they are or are revisions of a name such as ‘Justin Bieber’. This makes Twitter’s 500 million users less ‘real’ to begin with since identities are usually masked or altered compared to Facebook which is a network for friends.
As Twitter comes closer to IPO and becoming a public company, issues like fake accounts may become larger for shareholders than the general public.