The brouhaha over what percentage of Twitter’s users are bots has joined my internal list of the most frustrating stupidities I have seen on the internet. It’s such a clear example of how people’s perception of a thing totally ruins their ability to think objectively about it.
It’s an inarguable fact: if you look at the replies to popular tweets on Twitter, a lot of those replies are created by bots. That’s easy to see. The core problem is that people are taking the feeling “30% of the content I see on Twitter is written by bots” and turning it into “30% of all the users on Twitter are bots”.
There are a lot of people who “lurk” on Twitter. People who probably know better than to open themselves up to the kind of mean-spirited criticism that awaits you on the internet. These are real people, but to some of the studies that Musk fans have pointed to, an account that never tweets is possibly a fake account, or a possibly a bot.
The fact that 70% of Musk’s followers haven’t tweeted in more than 120 days isn’t any evidence that those people are bots, it’s just evidence that a significant majority of people who have Twitter accounts simply do not post. And good for them! I’m sure they are living happy, productive lives somewhere else.