14 September 2022
Since Tesla’s Elon Musk attempted to purchase Twitter and tried to get information on the number of bots on the social media platform, Twitter bots have infested tens of thousands of posts day after day. In the cryptocurrency industry, bots are very prevalent and any time a popular crypto account posts, the thread is teeming with legions of bots trying to scam people. Despite people reporting the bots regularly, and openly complaining about the problem, Twitter has done very little to address the issue.
Twitter (NYSE: TWTR) has an issue with phony accounts, or bots, that are quite prevalent in the crypto ecosystem and other industries like technology, finance, and politics. While bots and fake accounts have been known to exist for quite some time, when Elon Musk tried to purchase Twitter this year, his team asked for numbers concerning the amount of spam accounts leveraging the social media application. When Musk decided to terminate the deal with Twitter, his lawyer explained that the Tesla executive needed more information necessary to “make an independent assessment of the prevalence of fake or spam accounts on Twitter’s platform.”
Musk’s attorney added:
Sometimes Twitter has ignored Mr. Musk’s requests, sometimes it has rejected them for reasons that appear to be unjustified, and sometimes it has claimed to comply while giving Mr. Musk incomplete or unusable information.
At the end of August, a judge on the Delaware Court of Chancery ordered Twitter to provide Musk and his team with additional data. Furthermore, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) also started a probe into the spam accounts using the social media application. On September 5, Musk tweeted about the new “Rings of Power” film and after his commentary, he said: “And 90% of my comments are bots.” Musk shared a picture of spam accounts pretending to be Binance CEO Changpeng Zhao, otherwise known as “CZ.”
The official Binance account on Twitter complained to the social media company in Musk’s thread and stressed: “Twitter, please, I see enough of my boss already. Can you help so I don’t have to see him 99x more each day?” The account name “CZ Binance” is a very popular spam account name right now, and a simple search will immediately produce 16 accounts pretending to be ”CZ Binance.” Spelling CZ’s name with the term Binance in different variations will produce dozens of CZ bots that are spamming people every single day on Twitter.
Currently, the legions of CZ bots that exist can be found spamming nearly every major crypto account that publishes a tweet. For instance, the Twitter account for Bitcoin.com News has 2.6 million followers, and every time the account tweets out a new article, spam accounts appear in great numbers and quite a few of them are fake CZ accounts. A great number of other phony accounts use non-fungible token (NFT) images for their profile pictures and spam out comments with links and further say: “Why isn’t anyone talking about this?” The people also have a phony account reply to the comment, in order to bolster the scam. “This is crazy dude,” one person says in response to a scam Youtube video link.
The same spam accounts and CZ bots can be found in tweets by nearly every popular Twitter account including Coindesk, Cointelegraph, The Block, Coinbase, Crypto.com, Bitfinex, Blockchain.com, and more. In addition to CZ, since the start of Ethereum’s Merge hype, Twitter has been littered with lots of Vitalik Buterin copy-cat Twitter bots. What’s worse is the fact that some of these accounts have blue check mark verifications. Even Buterin openly mocked one of the prolific comments crypto bot scammers like to say in Twitter threads: “But why is everybodyy silentFQTP on thiss???” After the comment, Buterin ‘Rickrolled’ the thread with Rick Astley’s official music video “Never Gonna Give You Up.”
The reporting process on Twitter is fragmented into a myriad of sections, but it does offer the ability to report an account that is accused of “[Spamming or] posting malicious links, misusing hashtags, fake engagement, repetitive replies, retweets, or direct messages.” After checking this part of Twitter’s complaint process, the account can be accused of “posting misleading or deceptive links, leading to scams, phishing, or other malicious links.” After notifying Twitter that the account is posting misleading or deceptive links that lead to scams, Twitter asks one more time for you to confirm the report. “It sounds like you want to make a report for platform manipulation and spam,” Twitter’s reporting process asks.
Typically, after reporting dozens of these types of spam accounts, the bots still exist in great numbers and oftentimes, Twitter will not respond back to the report. Once in a great while, Twitter will say it found the account was suspected of spamming and respond to the report. Usually, Twitter simply hides the spam account from the person who reported it and the phony account is still seen by the general public.
This past week, the popular Twitter account known as “Pomp,” operated by the crypto investor Anthony Pompliano, complained about the bot situation. “I have manually blocked hundreds of Twitter bots today,” Pompliano wrote on September 12. “This happens every day. How in the world can a $32 billion company not solve this problem? I have blocked upwards of 30 bots that responded to the original tweet in the first 4 minutes. Unreal,” the crypto influencer added.
Twitter, the company’s employees, and the support team have been asked about the bot and spam account issue for quite some time. Lea Kissner, the CISO of Twitter’s information security, privacy engineering, and IT teams was asked about the problem on August 18. “Do you plan to assemble a team to deal with spam?” the person asked Kissner. “It’s out of control, [especially] in bitcoin/crypto sphere. check any bitcoiner with [a] decent following.” Kissner replied to the question and said: “Trust and Safety and Health are different teams. We work with them, but different org.” The person responded to Kissner’s statement and remarked:
I thought spam prevention would fall under information security. My mistake then.
What do you think about the crypto spam accounts and CZ bots on Twitter? Let us know what you think about this subject in the comments section below.
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