23 Million of Twitter’s ‘Active Users’ are Bots

23 Million of Twitter's 'Active Users' are Bots

Earlier this month we looked at data from Twitter which revealed that 14 percent of Twitter’s monthly active users (MAUs), which totalled 271 million as of its most recent earnings, used third party apps to access the service.

Which meant that almost 40 million Twitter users were never served ads.

Twitter has clarified this metric in a new filing, breaking down that 14 percent into three important groups, one of which reveals a startling number who aren’t human.

Yep, Twitter themselves have stated that 8.5 percent of its MAUs “used third party applications that may have automatically contacted our servers for regular updates without any discernible additional user-initiated action”.

Translation: they’re bots, and 8.5 percent of 271 million equates to 23 million “active” users.

Now, bots aren’t necessarily a bad thing and they’re certainly not the same as spammers or abandoned accounts, but one thing they’re definitely not is human. Which means that they’re not “active” in any strict sense of the word, inasmuch as they have no value to advertisers. Who, after all, Twitter wants to attract. So reporting bots within a tally of active users is a little bit cheeky.

(And don’t get me started on all the gazillions of cat and dog Twitter accounts out there. Whose ads are they clicking on, exactly?)

Additionally, Twitter has noted that 3 percent (8 million) of its MAUs use TweetDeck or Twitter for Mac, and a further 2.5 percent (7 million) use other third-party clients. So, breaking this down a step further, and clarifying the original report, 11 percent of Twitter’s MAUs – more than 30 million profiles – are bots or use third party apps, and thus either can never see ads or can’t possibly interact with them if they do.

I guess Twitter was letting us know all along – something is technically wrong.