Twitter’s new filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission reveals that the social site hosts as many as 23 million monthly active bots. Currently, Twitter has approximately 271 million monthly active users, so bots account for about 8.5 percent of this number.
In the three months ended June 30, 2014, approximately 11 percent of all active users solely used third-party applications to access Twitter. However, only up to approximately 8.5 percent of all active users used third party applications that may have automatically contacted our servers for regular updates without any discernable additional user-initiated action. The calculations of MAUs presented in this Quarterly Report on Form 10-Q may be affected as a result of automated activity.
Twitter bots aren’t necessarily terrible, at least for users. Some are actually entertaining, and sometimes even downright useful. Take @earthquakeBot, for example. It’s “a robot that tweets about any earthquakes 5.0 or greater as they happen” using data from the U.S. Geological Survey. Likewise, @earthquakesSF from the same developer “live-tweets earthquakes in the San Francisco Bay area.”
— Earthquake Robot (@earthquakeBot) August 12, 2014
These bots are sometimes even more popular than actual users. @Everyword tweeted every single word from the English language from 2007 to 2014. That bot garnered 95.1K followers. Here is the last tweet, which was retweeted 746 times:
— everyword (@everyword) June 7, 2014
Of course another type of bot, spambots, are actually annoying for users and Twitter alike:
We are continually seeking to improve our ability to estimate the total number of spam accounts and eliminate them from the calculation of our active users. For example, we made an improvement in our spam detection capabilities in the second quarter of 2013 and suspended a large number of accounts. Spam accounts that we have identified are not included in the active user numbers presented in this Quarterly Report on Form 10-Q.
The bot problem effects advertising dollars, and consequently, revenue and stock pricing. The higher the number of real users digesting and clicking on ads, the better chance Twitter will have of gaining advertising revenue.