Twitter’s Earnings Leak is Latest Sign that ‘Good’ Bots are Going Too Far

May 16, 2015 Rami Essaid

Image Credit: Inozemtsev Konstantin / Shutterstock

When Twitter’s disappointing earnings report was discovered and prematurely released by a financial intelligence firm on April 28, causing Twitter shares to tumble, it was more than a just a big oops for the social media giant. The affair has thrown a spotlight on the shadowy world of bots – computer programs that crawl the web and perform tasks at a volume and speed a human could never match – and the legal and ethical grey areas they increasingly operate in.

According to multiple news reports, this is how the results got out: NASDAQ OMX Group’s Shareholder.com accidentally posted the earnings release on Twitter’s publicly available investor-relations page for 45 seconds about an hour before the results were supposed to go public. Selerity, a New York company that offers a “real-time news and event detection platform” to investors, found the release – presumably through the use of automated web-scraping bots – and tweeted the information.

“No leak, no hack,” the company tweeted.

That may be true, but does that make it right?

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About the Author

Rami Essaid

Rami Essaid is the Chief Product and Strategy Officer and Co-founder of Distil Networks, the first easy and accurate way to identify and police malicious website traffic, blocking 99.9% of bad bots without impacting legitimate users. With over 12 years in telecommunications, network security, and cloud infrastructure management, Rami continues to advise enterprise companies around the world, helping them embrace the cloud to improve their scalability and reliability while maintaining a high level of security.

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