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Twitter has a hard time with bots because it was designed to be bot-friendly

Kai Ryssdal Feb 21, 2018
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It’s been a hard year for social platform companies like Twitter and Facebook. After reports emerged of Russians interfering with the 2016 presidential election by using bots and fake accounts, both companies have come under pressure to clean up their user bases. And for Twitter, this may be especially tricky; as far as platforms go, the site is incredibly bot-friendly. 

This is something that they’ve struggled with over the years ever since its inception,” said Bloomberg’s Selina Wang in an interview with Marketplace host Kai Ryssdal. “Twitter, as a company, has encouraged anonymity in various forms, as well as automated accounts.”

According to Wang, most of those bots on Twitter are innocuous; they handle customer service or tweet articles. But over time, bot use has become more diverse, and in some cases, malicious. But Twitter’s business model could make screening for those malicious bots particularly complicated. 

When you look at Twitter, the main metric Wall Street cares about is this number called ‘monthly active users.’ They want to grow that number as much as possible,” Wang said. “As they combat this issue, it will cause an impact, at least in the short term, on this monthly active user number.”

Click the audio player above to hear the full interview.

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