New Research Finds Spam Bots Advertize Gambling and Escort Services on Twitter

New research has revealed that gambling and escort services are being promoted on Twitter by spam bots. According to reports, despite the Covid-19 protests that took place in November 2022, the search results in China were literally flooded by spam bots offering the aforementioned services that are currently illegal in the country.

For the time being, dealing with spam bots remains one of the major challenges that are being faced by social media nowadays. No matter what integrity measures and special algorithms are unveiled, such autonomous software programs continue to exist as part of some major social media platforms and most platforms find it hard to get rid of them because such actions require a lot of resources and serious scrutiny.

Soon after Elon Musk took control of Twitter in October 2022 as a result of purchasing the social media platform for $44 billion, he commenced implementing some significant changes there. One of the major changes that took place in Twitter involved a significant reduction in the company’s workforce. Apart from that, the business magnate eliminated the Trust and Safety Council of Twitter – a body that had been specially established to primarily monitor automated bots, hate speech, and other issues for the social media platform.

Interestingly, despite the significant workforce reduction and his decision to shut down the Trust and Safety Council, Elon Musk explained at the time that keeping spam bots away from Twitter remains one of the platform’s top priorities.

Spam Bots Help Push Down Spam Search Results in China

In November 2022, some Covid-19-related protests that took place in China got viral on social media. At the time, Twitter was one of the main platforms used by the opponents of the restrictions unveiled by the Chinese Government to deal with the further spread of the infection, with protestors using various social media channels to show the harsh reality of various coronavirus pandemic-related measures.

An investigation of The New York Times showed that spam bots overflowed the information and tweets related to the anti-Covid-19 measures protests in China, offering gambling and escort adverts. Apart from that, a researcher from Stanford university unveiled that so-called spam bots helped push spam results for 10 cities in China when Chinese characters were used in the search. The research found there had been widespread spambot activity, as spam results appeared even in cases when the search included names of cities where no protests against Covid-19 restrictions took place.

The researchers contacted some businesses only to find that they had used advertising agencies to use the ads services available on Twitter. They made an interesting discovery, considering the fact that the promotion of gambling, prostitution and pornographic materials is currently not allowed in China. The country’s Government has imposed tough strict measures against the aforementioned activities and constantly monitors such attempts.

During the investigation, the researchers tracked millions of spambots’ tweets on the social media platform. While some of them were suspended, others would quickly emerge, so they continued to flood the search results. Still, analysts believe that the discovery has not been that surprising, given the fact that social media platforms find it difficult to keep spam or fake news in languages other than English away from the platform.