Twitter stock had a great start on November 7 with pricing 73 percent above its set share price, but today it dipped below $40 for the first time.
The stock price is currently down nearly five percent, and a new article from The Wall Street Journal appears to be the culprit.
Published Sunday evening, “Inside a Twitter Robot Factory” talks about fake accounts, and how some people are using them.
It mostly chronicles a man, Jim Vidmar, who uses fake Twitter accounts to help around 50 different clients.
Vidmar claims to manage 10,000 robots which help his clients appear more popular.
Mr. Vidmar’s robots have helped make his clients “trending topics” on Twitter, giving them special mention on Twitter users’ home pages. The trending topics appear just below the “promoted trend” that the company sells for as much as $200,000 a day. The trending topics aren’t marked as “sponsored,” so they appear more genuine.
Between June 2012 and April 2013, researchers worked with Twitter to develop a better way of detecting bots, and fake accounts.
While these new methods reportedly help detect around 95 percent of such accounts, Vidmar claims workarounds have already been implemented.
But Mr. Vidmar and others say the underground market quickly adapted. The researchers’ system flagged accounts with incomplete profiles, no pictures, and little activity. In response, Mr. Vidmar says suppliers now fill out more account details, add pictures, and tweet from the accounts before selling them.
Vidmar makes it clear there is still an abundance of fake Twitter accounts, saying he “could go buy fake accounts from about 20 different sources right now.”
Potentially more unsettling, some researchers including Jason Ding of Barracuda Labs, say that Twitter “doesn’t appear” to be implementing the more effective methods.
Fake Twitter accounts are nothing new, but it’s a dark cloud that continues to hang over the social network’s head.