The saga between Elon Musk and Twitter continues to unfold in unexpected ways. Many rejoiced when word spread that Musk was going to buy the beleaguered social network. And leftists freaked out when he promised to make it a free speech platform.
Some might have suspected the Biden administration to interfere with this sale (and they are trying to do). But it was Musk himself who put the sale into question, after he demanded proof from Twitter than only 5% of its user base were bots. Twitter seems to be unable to provide that evidence.
And now, a new contender is wading into this situation.
Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton has launched an investigation against Twitter for possibly violating the state’s Deceptive Trade Practices Act by falsely reporting information about the fake bot accounts that populate the site.
According to a release Monday from the Paxton’s office, bot accounts “inflate followers and reach, and often push deceptive and annoying activity,” in addition to potentially inflating “the value of the company and the costs of doing business with it, thus directly harming Texas consumers and businesses.”
In the last weeks, Twitter has come under increased scrutiny for claiming in its financial regulatory filings that bots comprise fewer than 5% of all users, amid reports the figure could be as high as 20%. [Source: Just the News]
This is a bigger deal than you might think. You and I might use Twitter simply for entertainment (if we use it at all). But, like Facebook and other major social networks, Twitter regularly encourages companies to use the service to expand their businesses. That includes creating accounts and spending ad dollars.
But if nearly 20% of Twitter’s user base is fake, then they have been deceiving companies to con them out of money. They were telling these companies that millions of fake users were real people who could buy their products. And that’s against the law.
It’s pretty odd that Twitter is struggling with fake accounts at this point. Bots have always been a problem on social networks. But over recent years, websites like YouTube, Facebook, and Reddit developed better tools for catching and eliminating fake accounts.
For some reason, Twitter is falling behind everyone else in this. Is it because Twitter needs these fake accounts, to boost their numbers? Is it because for years, Twitter has allowed liberals to harass and bully conservatives and free thinkers off the site, making it a virtual wasteland? Perhaps Twitter’s tyrannical censorship of ideas drove interesting people off the site, leaving its numbers decimated?
But to keep up appearances, they ignore the fake accounts, pretending as if there are more people using Twitter than actually are.
That would be a major concern for the state of Texas—and any other state that wants to protect consumers and companies.
What is Paxton going to find out from this investigation? We don’t know, but Twitter won’t be happy about it.
Author: Kit Fargo