Twitter today announced its first profit since the company went public in 2013. Now in the black, the Jack Dorsey-led microblogging platform pocketed a cool $91.1 million in the fourth quarter of last year.
Now that Twitter is in the black, it’s time for Dorsey to put that profit to good use. He can start with fixing the platform’s lingering issues with bots and spam.
Bots have become an especially noticeable (if not new) problem on Twitter. According to a report by the New York Times, bot peddlers have done brisk business on the site, setting up thousands upon thousands of fake accounts to follow and retweet paying customers, sometimes even stealing identities to do it. The NYT also reported Twitter believed it might have as many as 60 million bot accounts.
Twitter seemingly began a purge of fake accounts after the report went live. Some users reported massive follower count drops.
The bots aren’t just a harmless business either — the follower count of major Twitter users is one thing that lends them credibility. Their auto-likes and retweets help tweets go viral and put major figures on their social media thrones. What these bots do, and who makes them do it, matters.
Twitter seems to be aware of the scope of the problem. In a letter to investors, it said the number of monthly active users might be affected by its attempts to cut down on fake accounts, and that it’s committed to making Twitter a better place all around:
We are committed to making Twitter safer, and we are clarifying our policies, improving our enforcement, and communicating more clearly. From a policy perspective, this quarter we published a new version of the Twitter Rules that further clarifies our policies, offers clear and detailed examples, and sets expectations around what content is allowed on Twitter.