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Elon Musk tells Twitter to boot the bots during company meeting

Wouldn’t it be nice to know what Elon Musk would do to improve your business?

Twitter employees got that chance when the CEO of Tesla, SpaceX and other future-minded businesses appeared via live video at a company-wide meeting in Houston on Thursday.

In a video from the event tweeted by a Twitter employee, Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey asked Musk for feedback — and jokingly offered to let him run the company.

“I think it would be helpful to differentiate between … ‘is this a real person, or is this a botnet or a sort of troll army’ or something like that,” Musk said.

The billionaire entrepreneur went on to explain that he thinks Twitter needs a way to find when someone is “trying to game the system.”

“I’m sure you guys see it all the time, people trying to manipulate the system,” Musk said. “They’re trying to sway public opinion and it can be very difficult to [tell] what’s real public opinion and what’s not. What are people actually upset about, versus manipulation of the system by various groups?”

Musk has previously warned about the potential for bots with artificial intelligence to be used to “manipulate social media.” And with more than 30 million followers, it’s likely he’s seen a fair number of phony accounts. Less than four months after Musk tweeted that warning, the replies are littered with “unavailable” messages and suspended accounts.

Elon Musk speaks before unveiling the Model Y at Tesla's design studio in Hawthorne, Calif.

Twitter is fully aware of its bot problem. It’s been purging fake accounts for years, at times sending its stock price tumbling and upsetting conservatives who accused the company of bias as the company cut swaths of phony accounts from its platform.

Last fall, Twitter said it had purged thousands of fake accounts linked to various world governments’ misinformation campaigns. And the company said it suspended a network of 200,000 “spammy” accounts that targeted Hong Kong protests.

Still, Musk has been a big Twitter user, sharing both company news and memes from his account. During the Twitter meeting, he was also asked when the first tweet might be sent from Mars.

After noting that a robot could probably tweet from the red planet “pretty soon,” Musk estimated that a person would tweet from Mars sometime between five and nine years from now.



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