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Musk’s X Begins Bot Purge—Here’s How X Has Tried To Squash Its Bot Problem


Elon Musk and X, formerly known as Twitter, said Thursday that X is beginning a purge of bots that have persisted on the platform since before Musk purchased it in 2022, the latest measure taken by Musk to combat fake accounts that have proven difficult to get rid of.

Key Facts

Musk, who said “we will defeat the spam bots or die trying” before he purchased Twitter in 2022, said Thursday a “system purge” of bots and trolls was underway and X Corp. will trace the people responsible for such accounts and bring “the full force of the law to bear upon them.”

X’s safety account followed up Musk’s post hours later and said it is eliminating accounts that violate manipulation and spam rules, telling users they may see changes in their follower counts as a result.

X has tried to lessen its bot problem before, testing a “Not A Bot” program for new users in the Philippines and New Zealand last year and charging them a $1 annual fee for basic functions—a program that “aims to defend against bots and spammers,” according to a blog post,

It’s not clear what the results of the “Not A Bot” program were despite X saying it would share details about the results “soon” after it announced its launch last October.

X also introduced two new premium tiers last year priced at $3 and $16, tacking them on to the $8 per month charge for the existing premium tier, which Elon said years prior was “the only way to defeat the bots & trolls.”

Bot removal hasn’t come without its hiccups, with Elon tweeting in January an X spam/scam bot accidentally flagged legitimate accounts, an issue he said was being fixed and one that echoes his note on Thursday, telling users to inform him or X engineers if legitimate accounts are suspended as a result of the bot purge.

Though the exact number of bots on X has not been identified, researchers and cybersecurity experts have found increased bot activity during buzzed-about events like the 2024 Super Bowl, the first Republican primary debate and Tucker Carlson’s interview with former President Donald Trump.

What We Don’t Know

X hasn’t shared data about how many bots are on the platform and it’s unclear if it intends to share the results of its bot purge.

Forbes Valuation

We estimate Musk’s net worth at $193.3 billion, making him the third-wealthiest person in the world behind Amazon founder Jeff Bezos and LVMH chief Bernard Arnault.

Key Background

Fake accounts plagued Twitter before Musk purchased the platform for $44 billion a year and a half ago. The tech billionaire said ahead of the buyout that he’d prioritize the removal of bots, which were a point of contention in the legal proceedings linked to his purchase of Twitter. Musk demanded Twitter disclose the number of bots on the platform, a data request his attorneys said was refused, according to the New York Times. Since purchasing Twitter and rebranding the platform to X, Musk has seemingly struggled to rein in the issue of fake accounts. Critics have said his attempts to launch premium accounts as a way to combat bots are not full-proof, arguing bad actors and people behind bot accounts can buy and use the verification badge that comes with the $8 premium tier to fool other users. The platform acknowledged last summer verified spammers were sending direct messages to users who didn’t follow them back, an ability only available for verified users or users reaching out to accounts who allowed DMs from anyone on X.

Further Reading

X Will Charge New Accounts $1 For Basic Functions Like Posting In New Zealand And The Philippines (Forbes)

Elon Musk Thinks X Could Become A Trillion Dollar Company—Here Are The Challenges Facing The Platform Since He Took Over (Forbes)

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