76% of Super Bowl Traffic From Elon Musk’s X to Advertisers Could Be Fake

In an eye-opening revelation that has set the digital advertising world abuzz, cybersecurity firm CHEQ has reported that a staggering 75.85% of Super Bowl traffic directed from Elon Musk’s social media platform X (formerly Twitter) to advertisers could be fraudulent. This claim follows a recent press release by X, boasting impressive engagement metrics during Super Bowl LVIII, including significant increases in posts, video views, and other interactions.

Guy Tytunovich, the founder and CEO of CHEQ, expressed his astonishment at the findings: “I’ve never seen anything even remotely close to 50 percent, not to mention 76 percent,” he said in an interview with Mashable. “I’m amazed… I’ve never, ever, ever, ever seen anything even remotely close.” This stark admission comes after CHEQ’s extensive analysis of some 144,000 site visits across the weekend leading up to and including Super Bowl Sunday, aimed at identifying and weeding out fake user activities and bot interference.

The methodologies employed by CHEQ to pinpoint fraudulent traffic include evaluating how visitors interact with a client’s page and analyzing the operating systems in use. Over the years, CHEQ has carved out a reputation for its conservative stance on fake traffic estimates. Tytunovich elucidated, “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 percent [being fake] is a bit opportunistic.”

Despite this conservative approach, the unprecedented levels of suspected fake engagement from X during the Super Bowl prompted serious deliberation over whether to publish the findings. “I almost decided not to go out [and publish this data] because we’ve never seen anything like it,” Tytunovich added, indicating the gravity of the situation.

To put the situation into perspective, CHEQ also shared traffic data from other popular social platforms during the same period around the Super Bowl. The fraudulent traffic figure stood at 2.56% for TikTok, 2.01% for Facebook, and a mere 0.73% for Instagram. This low level of fake traffic has presumably contributed to these platforms’ popularity among brands. Contrastingly, in January 2024 alone, CHEQ observed that 31.82% of traffic coming from X was non-genuine.

In comparison to the 2023 Super Bowl data, the recent spike in suspicious traffic from X marks a significant departure. Last year, bot-related visits constituted only 2.81% of site traffic from the platform, back when the service boasted between 2,000 and 3,000 Twitter Blue (now X Premium) subscribers, and was not as heavily laden with “verified” users. Moreover, within the last year, Musk reportedly axed 80% of the Trust and Safety engineering team at the company, a move that potentially exacerbated the issue.

As of now, Elon Musk has yet to publicly address the CHEQ report. However, he recently amplified a post by “DogeDesigner” on X, claiming, “BREAKING: 𝕏 is growing faster than ever before.” This development leaves many to ponder the implications for digital advertising integrity and the future of platform accountability.

The advertising and tech industries are keenly watching how this revelation will impact advertiser confidence in X and whether it sparks a broader conversation about digital advertising transparency and fraud prevention. As the dust settles, the hope is for a more robust dialogue on ensuring the authenticity of digital engagements, thereby safeguarding the investments and trust of advertisers in digital platforms.

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