Twitter attack: Bots may have been hardest hit

Twitter attack: Bots may have been hardest hit

Summary: To read the coverage of yesterday's Denial-of-Service attack on Twitter, you'd think it was the end of the online world. But to put things in perspective as it relates to Twitter and the number of people who are using the service - and hit hardest by the outage - consider this:A couple of months ago, social media analytics firm Sysomos closely analyzed the people on Twitter and how the service was being used.

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To read the coverage of yesterday's Denial-of-Service attack on Twitter, you'd think it was the end of the online world. But to put things in perspective as it relates to Twitter and the number of people who are using the service - and hit hardest by the outage - consider this:

A couple of months ago, social media analytics firm Sysomos closely analyzed the people on Twitter and how the service was being used. What it found, among other things, was that five percent of Twitter's 11.5 million accounts post about 75% of all the tweets. That led the firm to dig in deeper on that five percent.

This week, the company released the results of the deeper study and highlighted a few important findings about that elite five percent:

  • 32 percent of all tweets made by that active group were generated by machine bots that posted more than 150 tweets per day.
  • The number of machine-generated tweets is probably greater because many of the bots post fewer than 150 times a day.
  • Based on the two reports, it appears that nearly one-quarter (24 percent) of all tweets overall are generated by those active bots.

However, these bots are not necessarily Twitter spammers. These are the automated tweets that comes from sources such as news services. Here at ZDNet, for example, you can follow our blog posts via an automated Twitter feed. I actually subscribe to a lot of these bot-generated tweets - CNN, The New York Times, CNET and so on. In a blog post, Sysomos co-founder and CEO Nick Koudas said:

It's a fascinating exercise to really focus on the most enthusiastic Twitter users, and what they are doing. Our findings, particularly the percentage of tweets contributed by bots, is definitely eye-opening and we hope they shed light on how Twitter is used today and by whom. We think this is one of the first reports to focus on the most active members of the Twitter community to provide interesting insight and perspective. We will continue our updates with additional analysis of the micro-blogging service.

Also worth noting is that 88 percent of this active group posts at least once a day. Of that group, about one-third joined this year, compared to the 72 percent of all Twitter users who are new this year. Lastly, the most popular keywords within the bios for those active users included: Internet marketing, music lover, Web designer, video games, and husband/father.

Also see: The four stages of the average Twitter user

Topics: Emerging Tech, Security, Social Enterprise

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6 comments
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  • Tweetbot Spammers?

    What happened to RSS Feeds?
    I guess THIS is why I have my updates LOCKED!
    Wish I could do the same with my USPS mailbox!
    kd5auq
  • RE: Twitter attack: Bots may have been hardest hit

    Just as in watching WICKED, we now learn that there are
    "good bots" and "bad bots" and just because they are in
    GREEN does not mean that they have an evil soul (they are
    probably still protesting the Iran elections).

    I subscribe to many of the news bots, and am a contributor
    to a very clever one that keeps track of CalTrain (commuter
    train) delays. I am annoyed by the ones that are trying to
    sell me porn or underwear and block 3-5 new ones each
    day. The surprising thing about THOSE however is that they
    have followers, meaning that people VOLUNTEER to be
    annoyed.

    Welcome to Web 2.1.2
    greggysf
  • Copy editor!

    "However, these bots are necessarily Twitter spammers. These are the automated tweets that comes from sources such as news services."

    "Also worth noting is that 88 percent of this active posts at least once a day."
    Lester Young
    • Sleeping - ZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ (nt)

      nt
      Economister
    • Having followed up on many errors on ZDNet, do this...

      Use the contact info for the author and let them know. Each author I've contacted has been grateful for the second set of eyes and will tell you they no longer have an editor available for them to have their entries reviewed, so it is helpful for them to get the heads up from readers. But it also tells me that very few of the authors bother following these comments once they've posted the story.
      ejhonda
  • Social networks for the few

    As it has always been in the real life social network. You
    have a few talkers and the rest listen and follow the
    crowd. I tend to think of MySpace, Twitter, Facebook and
    so on as just places for gabbers to go. Of course non of
    these sites really make a lot of money and in a few months
    user's will have already started to move on to the next
    great thing in social networking. This kind of attack is the
    end of the world for these socially dependent users who
    are only a small percentage of any total group on any of
    these sites. Its not news, its only a inconvenience to most.
    jscott418-22447200638980614791982928182376