75% of X's Big Game Traffic Attributed to Bots, Report Says

75% of X's Big Game Traffic Attributed to Bots, Report Says

News by Roberto Orosa
Published: February 21, 2024

The CBS broadcast of Super Bowl 2024 achieved a historic milestone as the most-watched televised event in U.S. history.

However, amid the celebrations, concerns arise regarding the authenticity of online engagement surrounding the event, particularly on the Elon Musk-owned social media platform.

X, formerly known as Twitter, touted its Super Bowl numbers in a press release, reportedly accumulating 10.5 billion impressions and 1.1. billion views during the Big Game.

X's Super Bowl traffic (Source: X Business)

A report by cybersecurity firm CHEQ shared with Mashable goes against these claims.

According to the company, a staggering 75.85% of the traffic from X to its advertising clients' websites during the Super Bowl weekend was determined to be fake.

CHEQ Founder and CEO Guy Tytunovich expressed shock at the extent of the fake traffic. "I've never seen anything even remotely close to 50%, not to mention 76%."

"I'm amazed… I've never, ever, ever, ever seen anything even remotely close," he added.

The data collected by CHEQ, based on 144,000 visits to clients' sites from X during the Super Bowl weekend, highlights a concerning trend.

While the sample is not scientifically representative, with data collected from CHEQ's 15,000 total clients, it underscores the prevalence of fake engagement on X.

X Users Call Out Rise of Bots During Super Bowl

Regular users of X have also noticed a rise in seemingly unauthentic activity, with bots flooding posts with AI-generated responses and spamming users' mentions with unsolicited promotions.

Advertisers have not been immune to X's bot issues, and these discrepancies have not gone unnoticed.

According to Gene Marks, a small business owner who shared his experience with The Guardian, despite X's analytics showing that his website had received 350 clicks from an estimated 29,000 views, Google Analytics revealed no actual traffic from the platform.

Comparisons with other social media platforms during the same period reveal the magnitude of X's bot problem. While platforms like TikTok, Facebook and Instagram also experienced fake traffic, none came close to X's nearly 76%.

Tytunovich highlighted the abnormality of X's bot problem, particularly during significant events like the Super Bowl. He emphasized the statistic that half of online traffic is caused by bots.

"We protect a lot of our customers on Google Ads, YouTube, and even TikTok, which I'm not a fan of, and we've always said 50% [being fake] is a bit opportunistic [...] I almost decided not to go out [and publish the X bot data] because we've never seen anything like it," he told Mashable.

According to Tytunovich, the social media platform didn't always have a bot problem of this magnitude, as evidenced by data from last year's Super Bowl.

However, under Musk's leadership, the platform has faced increasing scrutiny and operational challenges.

A Bot Epidemic

The issue extends beyond the big game, as data from January 2024 indicates persistent high levels of fake traffic on X compared to other platforms.

Despite efforts to address the problem, including plans to open a Trust and Safety center and hire more employees, X's bot issue remains unresolved.

The platform has seen significant changes since Elon Musk's takeover, including layoffs, structural alterations and the exit of its major advertisers, which may contribute to the current challenges.

Just last month, X experienced an influx of Taylor Swift deepfake images surfacing in the platform.

This prompted the social media giant to block searches for the pop star, as it aimed to protect users from further exposure to sensitive and inappropriate content.

Editing by Katherine 'Makkie' Maclang

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