Identify bots if you want to fix Twitter, advises Elon Musk

SAN FRANCISCO: Elon Musk, the SpaceX and Tesla chief executive officer, was asked Thursday by Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey how he would fix the social network, where Musk has almost 31 million followers.

“Give us some direct feedback,” said Dorsey, who spoke to Musk via a video call from a company meeting in Houston. Musk was projected onto a giant screen as thousands of Twitter employees watched the two executives chat. “If you were running Twitter,” Dorsey continued, “what would you do?”

“I think it would be helpful to differentiate” between real and fake users, Musk replied, according to a video posted to Twitter by an employee. “Is this a real person or is this a bot net or a sort of troll army or something like that?”

“Basically, how do you tell if the feedback is real or someone trying to manipulate the system, or probably real, or probably trying to manipulate the system,” the Tesla CEO continued. “What do people actually want, what are people actually upset about versus manipulation of the system by various interest groups.”

It’s likely that at least one of the groups Musk had in mind was “TSLAQ,” a loose collective of critics, sceptics and short sellers who often tweet using the TSLAQ hashtag. Musk faces relentless criticism from the group on Twitter. Musk, while one of the site’s most popular users, is also one of its most controversial. He called a British caver a “pedo guy” in 2018 and was later sued for defamation. Later that same year, he also tweeted that he was thinking of taking Tesla private, prompting a temporary halt on trading and a US Securities and Exchange Commission investigation.

Musk, one of many high-profile Twitter users to speak at the company event this week, also predicted that humans would send a tweet from Mars sometime in the next five to nine years.