I did not cover it in the show because the story dropped overnight, but it looks like the Musk-Twitter deal is in trouble. The stated reason is Musk thinks Twitter has been faking their user numbers. Twitter admitted initially that 5% of their users were robots, but that always seemed like a lie. There are too many blue check journalists with high user counts and low traffic volume. The likes to replies is also out of order.
Years ago, a British research team estimated that Twitter controlled a bot army of about six hundred thousand Twitter accounts. They could use this swarm to boost favored users and rig the trending topics. Others have made similar claims about fake users and not just about Twitter. This video is from almost ten years ago and it walks through how Facebook fakes its own ad traffic.
There is an age old expression that says anything of value will be stolen or faked and that surely applies to internet traffic. In the old days, magazines and newspapers were subject to audits so they could not lie about their subscriber base and sales to prospective advertisers. The ratings book in radio was about protecting the advertisers from fraudulent claims about the listenership.
There has never been anything like this for social media companies or internet news sites, so fraud is rampant. The question is how rampant. Years ago, Ann Coulter tweeted out a post from this site. This was a test to see how much traffic actually would come from Twitter. A grand total of seven hundred clicks was the final result. Coulter supposedly has two million followers.
It is hard to know if what Musk is doing is legitimate or simply a way to wiggle out of what may be a bad deal. Everyone agrees he overpaid for the company and everyone agrees that the deal has only gotten worse. His claims about the user base could be a way to scuttle the deal entirely. Alternatively, he could be greenmailing Twitter into agreeing to much lower price for the company.
Regardless, it is certain that Twitter has been lying about their user base for a long time and the degree of overstatement is much higher than they have admitted. This is probably true of every site whose traffic is tied to revenue. The temptation to lie is simply too great and the morality of the people involved is too low. So much of Big Tech is a big fraud and it starts with fake traffic numbers.
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This Week’s Show
- Girl Power in Germany (Link)
- Multiculturalism in Sweden (Link)
- Finnish Madness (Link)
- Ukrainian Absurdity (Link)
- Abortion (Link)
- Cloud People (Link)
- Nice Black Lady (Link)
- Kicking Puppies (Link)
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