According to researchers, between 9% and 15% of active accounts on Twitter are thought to be Bots and not real people. This is according to the study "Online Human-Bot Interactions: Detection, Estimation, and Characterization." The study got put together by the Information Sciences Institute at the University of Southern California and the Center for Complex Network at Indiana University. The researchers used more than 1,000 different features to identify the bot accounts on the website, including tweet contents, friends and the time between tweets.

This raises questions about what these finds could mean for Twitter and the broader internet in general.

More on the research findings

Since Twitter currently has 319 million monthly active users, this means that anywhere from 28 to 48 million of those are bot accounts, taking the estimated range from the research into account. The study also says that their high-end 15% figure could even be conservative since very complex bots could have shown up as humans in their models. This report flies in the face of what Twitter said in their filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), when they said the number could have been up to 8.5%.

What this could mean for Twitter

This most definitely is news that could affect Twitter, since the company has recently been struggling to grow its user base in the face of increased competition from other social media websites like Snapchat, Instagram, and Facebook.

Analysts are concerned about Twitter's revenue growth since it has slowed down into the mid-single digits in recent months. This report that they could have almost double as many bots as they officially estimated will not help concerns.

However, a Twitter spokesperson and the researchers both highlighted the benefits of certain bots, like those that automatically alert people on natural disasters or spreading the news. The report did mention the negative side of bots, pointing out the growing malicious nature of them in promoting fake news or terrorism.