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Elon Musk tried to get rid of Twitter bots by blocking hundreds of thousands of accounts, but accidentally impacted many legitimate users

elon musk
Musk at a 2022 Halloween party.Taylor Hill/Getty Images
  • Twitter blocked around 30 mobile carriers due to Elon Musk's bot fears, per Platformer.

  • But this meant many real users were also denied access to the app on Sunday.

  • Staff rushed to reverse the ban after top telecom companies passed on customer complaints.

Elon Musk accidentally blocked real Twitter users as the platform denied access to hundreds of thousands of accounts in an attempt to reduce bot numbers, Platformer reported.

Around midnight Saturday, the world's second-richest person tweeted: "The bots are in for a surprise tomorrow."

Hours later, the main telecom providers in India and Russia – plus the second-biggest in Indonesia – were all blocked from Twitter.

Roughly 30 mobile carriers, primarily in eastern Asia, were all cut off from the app as part of Musk's attempt to limit spam.

Instead of identifying individual accounts, Twitter identified mobile networks which were associated with large bots networks, Platformer reported.

It first blocked SMS messages used for two-factor authentication, before preventing access to Twitter completely.

Musk's concern about bots was a prime issue as he tried to pull out of the deal to acquire Twitter over the summer. His lawyers also argued that Twitter was hiding staff responsible for calculating how many accounts were bots.

He had claimed that 20% of users were fake or spam, but Musk's own data scientists found the number to be around 5% to 11%.

Sunday's ban only lasted for a bit more than an hour, before the telecom companies passed their customers' complaints onto the social network.

On the company's Slack, a Twitter engineer shared an email from one of the companies, Platformer reported. One employee said: "I expect more emails like this to hit our peering queue tomorrow."

Another replied: "We blocked a fair few huge carriers, so I would expect so."

The telecom companies were told the issue was due to "routing configuration changes" as Twitter staff quickly undid the block.

Musk had also demanded employees explain why a specific account had been able to impersonate him, per Platformer. The hacked account had been able to share crypto scams because it was verified.

One employee said that Twitter's content moderation tool used to identify spam "has been unstable for at least a week now."

Twitter did not immediately reply to Insider's request for comment.

Read the original article on Business Insider