About those Twitter Bot accountsMon 10:00 am Europe/London, 16 May 2022
We don’t need to rely on third-party “Bot Sentinel” tools–or users randomly inspecting their own follower lists–to find bots. There is one entity that can easily identify them all. Twitter itself
There is an interesting game of chess going on here between Elon and the management of Twitter over the proportion of accounts on Twitter that are “genuine”—that is, real people—as opposed to various kinds of automated accounts or information warfare sock puppets.
Both sides know a lot more than they are letting on, and both are playing a game of chess over it.
On the surface, it matters a lot because Twitter, as a public company, has made statements to its advertisers and investors through the years about the size, growth and makeup of its Twitter account user base, and if it is revealed that they “fudged the numbers”, there will be hell to pay.
Now that a well-heeled buyer is involved with doing due diligence prior to closing a transaction to take Twitter private—it really matters in a legal sense, too.
Is the number of “fake” accounts 5% or less — as Twitter itself claims — or is it closer to 50%?
It’s portrayed (in a Nelsonian Knowledge sort of way, by some) as though it’s some big unsolvable mystery. Maybe it is, to people without technical skill in data analytics.
But to those of us who know this stuff—it’s outrageous that it is even a point of debate. We know they know—and they know that we know they know.
Checkmate will come, I assure you.
As my favorite data analytics genius and big-brained thinker Ethical Skeptic says:
“Nelsonian knowledge is the virtual forbidden knowledge, which betrays its possession through one’s exacting efforts to avoid it in the first place.
Nelsonian knowledge involves a keen prowess in knowing what to not-know, where to not-look and how not-to-look at it.
As regards the poseur, intelligence cannot be derived from the ‘reliable’ sources they choose to examine.
Rather it is often those sources which they conspicuously demand that everyone avoid, which tend to offer the greatest probative potential. (Ethical Skeptic)”
The correct answer about which accounts on Twitter are real people and which are not is knowable to the third decimal place, and if Twitter has the systems in place that I think they do—they already know that answer in real time. There’s probably an ongoing flurry of activity to try to sweep evidence under the rug.
As a purchaser of Twitter, it’s clearly in Elon’s best interests to know that number—precisely. Because it establishes a proper metric for arriving at a reasonable share price for TWTR stock.
Elon likes to portray himself as a goofy nerd at times, but he’s actually quite shrewd, as his business successes reveal.
In case you didn’t know, Elon acquired the fortune that he built into SpaceX and Tesla as a co-founder of PayPal, which was acquired in 2002 by E-bay. As a young man, Elon was a gifted programmer. Very gifted.
“In 2002, eBay acquired PayPal for $1.5 billion in stock, giving Musk a personal fortune of $175 million. Musk parlayed the PayPal money into a variety of far-flung ventures and now controls $1 trillion electric car company Tesla, space exploration firm SpaceX, brain implant startup Neuralink and tunnel construction firm the Boring Company.” (NY Post)
Therefore, Elon knows just as well as I do, this fact: the internal databases at Twitter are all that is needed to completely and clearly establish what fraction of accounts at Twitter are real people or business accounts, which are bots (non-human programmatic Tweeters) and which are propagandists or info warriors (multiple sock puppet accounts that push narratives or purposefully spread dis-information or create conflict.)
Twitter has official policies that limit the number of tweets, follows, email changes per hour, etc. These rules are clear indications that they know that “automation bots” are a big consumer of Twitter resources.
They once locked my account for replying too quickly and too many times in a 24 hour period (I type fast, what can I say) because it creates a drain on server resources, among other things. It also made my propagation scores and “reach” go beyond what they wanted a conservative voice to have on their protected, controlled narrative-formation and ideology-preserving platform.
Here’s the thing.
I’ve been involved in “data mining” since the early 1990’s, long before it was cool and before anyone who is less than 30 years old was even born. I even helped build supercomputers to do data mining and installed them in … various places.
I began my career at a time when there was no “Internet” as we know it today; at that time, there were fragmentary and isolated networks mostly at universities and government research entities that were beginning to be attached to one another with this thing called the ‘arpanet’.
I’ve been around the block a time or two. (For the record: I never saw Al Gore at any gold shovel, ribbon-cutting ceremonies for “inventing the Internet” as he once claimed.)
In the last decade, I spent a lot of time creating large scale SQL databases and working up to my eyeballs in SQL queries to perform data analytics on student information systems at large school districts.
I know how data systems work, what is possible, what is not — and therefore, have a pretty solid idea of what information lies hidden in the vaults of Twitter.
If I had a couple of weeks, a small team of helpers, and unrestricted access, I could determine—using a number of simple to complex analytical and heuristic techniques —which accounts at Twitter were “real people” and which were not—by looking at account creation and usage details to establish “pattern of life” behavior (when, how, and what is being “tweeted” and from where) using timestamps, IP addresses, pattern matching analysis, and other rich geolocation data that Twitter obviously collects.
Twitter doesn’t need me to do this, however. They already know the answers.
I also know that Elon could dispatch a team of experts with ten times my skill level at the snap of his fingers—people from Tesla’s AI and Information Systems units, for example —to do the same. He could probably do the analysis himself if he still has the software chops that he used to.
I also know that Elon knows, with certainty, that there are people at Twitter itself who know all of this just as well. They KNOW the answers. They are feigning confusion and ignorance and obfuscating the facts. They are playing Nelsonian Knowledge games.
What was interesting to me last week was this tweet from Elon:
Elon likely already knows the answer of what proportion of Twitter accounts are “genuine”; but here, he is pretending to ask Twitter users “hey, can you help me do a check of your own accounts? What number do YOU come up with?”
In this Tweet, he cleverly does three things:
- He reveals that Twitter Legal is concerned about the question and its answers, AND …
- He reveals that there was an NDA that covered this and other “sensitive” matters, AND ….
- He reveals to them (and to some of us) that he knows how to play chess and not checkers.
As those of you who have read my material here on substack know, I have been watching with a jaundiced eye as innumerable factions across the globe have taken over social media networks and bent them to their own purposes for PSYOP, spying, and propaganda.
As I quoted in Anti-Social Media part 2, the father of modern advertising and the nephew of Sigmund Freud knew as far back as 1928 how things worked:
“The conscious and intelligent manipulation of the organized habits and opinions of the masses is an important element in democratic society. Those who manipulate this unseen mechanism of society constitute an invisible government which is the true ruling power of our country. “
—Edward Bernays, father of modern advertising, public relations, and propaganda, in a book published in 1928.
As you watch the game unfold between Elon, Twitter, and the forces behind Twitter than do not want you to see behind the curtain—remember just how high the stakes are.
I made a speculative claim on Telegram to this effect—and it garnered more than 63,000 views:
What is transpiring in this titanic battle over Twitter really is a battle for the future of humanity. It’s not just about Twitter; it’s a war by proxy, because other social media platforms are abused in similar ways that Twitter is for the purposes of carrying out covert psychological manipulation.
“They” don’t want this to be revealed, nor stopped.
Free speech, and thought that is free from coercion and subliminal influence must be secured if human civilization is to flourish into the future.
I thank God that Elon is here at this time and place and has the courage and resources that he does to try to unmask the players. The stakes are high.
Elon knows they are.