I'm quoted again in the Wall Street Journal about how Elon Musk's status as an "outlier among outliers" means his experience of Twitter is likely filled with a lot more spam and unusual engagement than even the average celebrity's.

Non paywalled:

@darius Strange that the same person who is so offended by bots is driven by the idea he needs to colonise other planets to populate them with digital beings. (And not only this, but that those future digital beings’ lives are more important than lives on earth here and now!)

@Janetgunter @darius reading this it occurs to me how easily techbro ideas about strong ai can be perverted into an even stupider (questionable if necessarily more horrible since bodies, etc.) version of christofascist antiabortionism

@darius lol, love to see WSJ assuming that he is 100% genuinely concerned about bots and not at least partly using the issue to sabotage the deal after totally bungling its financing.

@jplebreton I did tell the reporter that I believe he is blowing smoke but that if you are going to believe he is approaching in good faith this is the most plausible theory I've heard so far

@darius totally yeah, and the analysis that follows from that is fine.

@darius he may be an outliner, but one with 90 million followers, and if indeed 70% of those are fake accounts, thats over 60 million fake acounts following him alone. 60 million of only ?225? million?? That can get us close to 30% of all twitter users being fake, following him alone. Quite a larger number than 5%. I am rather sure some of the fakes following other big accounts are not the same ones that follow him. I suspect we will find the majority of twits are actually fakes.

@tychosoft @darius It is quite possible that much of the fighting I saw when I was on Twitter - almost certainly between real users - could heve been initially provoked by some sort of fake troll bot. Similar to provocateurs at a protest.

Are there AI provocateurs? I have no idea. It sounds like it could be the plot for a scifi, except that life is now like being in a low budget scifi.

@tychosoft where did 70% come from, though? Every auditable study that I have audited that has huge numbers of bots like that ultimately falls apart on audit. I was interviewed about that in the New York Times a few years back. The available mass analysis tools are incredibly flaky and don't stand up to scrutiny.

@tychosoft btw that 70% sparktoro number is absolutely wrong for many many reasons I may go into later - they refused to allow me to audit their work when I asked, too


Elon Musk as an extreme case aside, I always found fascinating how different the experience of different people can be with social network platforms; depending on how they interact with their discovery and recommendation systems.

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