OPINION: This article may contain commentary which reflects the author's opinion.
Billionaire Tesla and SpaceX founder Elon Musk has responded to an independent analysis that found most Twitter accounts, by far, are fake, spam, or bot accounts.
According to leading cyber security specialist Dan Woods, who formerly worked for the FBI and CIA, as many as 80 percent of Twitter accounts are bots, The Australian reported.
“Sure sounds higher than 5%!” Musk wrote on the platform in response to Woods’ findings.
Sure sounds higher than 5%!
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) September 1, 2022
“More than 80 per cent of Twitter accounts are likely bots, according to former CIA and FBI cyber security specialist Dan Woods, who created a fake profile and quickly gained more than 100,000 fake followers in one weekend by purchasing them on the dark web,” the outlet reported.
“Mr Woods, who studies bot traffic as part of his current role with global cyber security provider F5, told The Australian that Twitter’s bot traffic was almost certainly far greater than it has expressed publicly and greater than it believes internally,” the outlet continued.
“I’m not a programmer, but I watched YouTube and in a weekend I wrote a script that automatically creates accounts on Twitter without encountering any obstacles,” he told the outlet.
“There’s huge demand (for bots), there’s a marketplace to serve that demand, and if I can write a bot that creates accounts on Twitter, and I’m not even a programmer, imagine what a sophisticated programmer could do,” he continued.
“Twitter doesn’t want (its number of bots) to be that high, so they’re going through the motions of canceling some accounts,” Woods added.
“I’m not saying they’re lying, but we’ve really studied these accounts and we’ve come to the conclusion that there are a lot more fake accounts than Twitter is letting on,” he noted further.
He said that allowing large numbers of bot accounts on Twitter and other major social media platforms is dangerous because it gives foreign malign actors and hostile governments a means to influence and manipulate another country’s political processes.
Musk filed paperwork earlier this summer to back out of the $44 billion offer he made to purchase the platform after he said Twitter executives were not being transparent about fake accounts. Twitter sued Musk afterward, and the case is pending in Delaware.
He and his legal team have suggested that the number of bot accounts may be as high as 33 percent, far more than the 5 percent Twitter has claimed.
Last month, Peiter “Mudge” Zatko, Twitter’s former head of security who was personally hired by Twitter founder and then-CEO Jack Dorsey, said in an explosive interview that current management has not been upfront and honest with Musk regarding the number of fake, bot, and spam accounts on the platform.
In addition, Zatko, a former formidable hacker with a reputation in Silicon Valley who was fired by Twitter in January, also said that the platform’s security is so poor it has become a national security risk.
Musk has maintained for months that Twitter officials were not being straight with him regarding the number of fake accounts, which is why he tried backing out of the $44 billion deal weeks ago. Twitter filed suit against Musk to complete the deal, but Musk filed a countersuit to force Twitter to reveal bot and spam account numbers.
“Zatko further alleges that Twitter’s leadership has misled its own board and government regulators about its security vulnerabilities, including some that could allegedly open the door to foreign spying or manipulation, hacking and disinformation campaigns,” CNN reported.
#BREAK A former Twitter executive, its head of security, has turned whistleblower.
He alleges grave security problems at the company that he says are a risk to national security and democracy.
His first TV interview here:https://t.co/QU823RBnN1 pic.twitter.com/krh7WVOrhe
— Donie O'Sullivan (@donie) August 23, 2022
“The whistleblower also alleges Twitter does not reliably delete users’ data after they cancel their accounts, in some cases because the company has lost track of the information, and that it has misled regulators about whether it deletes the data as it is required to do,” the report continued.
“The whistleblower also says Twitter executives don’t have the resources to fully understand the true number of bots on the platform, and were not motivated to. Bots have recently become central to Elon Musk’s attempts to back out of a $44 billion deal to buy the company (although Twitter denies Musk’s claims),” CNN added.