Yesterday, LA Times published an article arguing that Twitter botnets helped Elon Musk build the cult of Tesla. Even speculating that Musk may have created or operated these botnets. However, experts were skeptical of the research. The article uses a tool called Botometer to determine what accounts are bots. The problem is Botometer is fundamentally unreliable.
Over a year ago Florian Gallwitz, Professor of computer science and media at Nuremberg Institute of Technology pointed out how flawed Botometer is for research. In response to the LA Times OpEd Gallwitz Twetted,
“Some @Botometer scores for Elon Musk. Screenshots taken just a few minutes apart. This is the tool the “social bot” pseudoscience and hundreds of “scientific” papers were built on.”
“Another red flag: The paper mentioned in this article is available upon request according to the researcher who tweeted the article out today. So there’s a thread about the paper and an article about the paper but nobody has seen the paper. Uhhm.” said Twitter users @KassandraSeven
In another long Twitter thread, an online marketer stressed how hard it is to recognize bots.