How Many Social Media Users Are Real People?

June 4, 2018

Most social media users know that bot accounts are among us, whether as fake voters with loud opinions or obsessive re-tweeters of a single corporation’s content. When it comes to telling many ‘fake’ accounts from real ones, however—or just knowing how many non-individuals are active online—even savvy users are mostly in the dark.

Tallies suggest there are over three billion social media users in the world, many of whom maintain accounts on multiple platforms. The total number of social media accounts may be several times that, making the task of sorting out people (and their braver/sassier/sexier online alter-egos) from commercial, political, and general trolling accounts a gargantuan technical challenge. According to the experts we’ve asked for this week’s Giz Asks, it’s virtually impossible to pin down a figure on who’s real and who’s not, but there are a few things that warm-blooded web users can look out for.

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