Industry News

New App Recognizes Twitter Bots, Researchers Say

New App Recognizes Twitter Bots, Researchers SayIndiana University researchers have developed a new app that identifies Twitter accounts controlled by automated software designed to flood online conversations with spam and misleading information, the researchers say.

The BotOrNot app examines about 1,000 account features including the user’s network, content and posting frequency to determine the extent to which an account resembles a social bot.

“We have applied a statistical learning framework to analyze Twitter data, but the ‘secret sauce’ is in the set of more than one thousand predictive features able to discriminate between human users and social bots, based on content and timing of their tweets, and the structure of their networks,” said Alessandro Flammini, associate professor of informatics and principal investigator on the project.

This project’s goal is to discover how many accounts are bot-controlled.

“Are there thousands of social bots? Millions? We know there are lots of bots out there, and many are totally benign. But we also found examples of nasty bots used to mislead, exploit and manipulate discourse with rumors, spam, malware, misinformation, political astroturf and slander,” says Fil Menczer, another researcher.

The researchers posted a few examples on the application’s main page. Based on their score, two Justin Bieber fan accounts, @jusbieberphotos and @stanbieberfan, show an 80 per cent probability of being software-controlled.

The developers’ ultimate goal is to eradicate untruthful information that might favor cybercrime, cause confusion and even endanger people’ democratic rights.

About the author

Alexandra GHEORGHE

Alexandra started writing about IT at the dawn of the decade - when an iPad was an eye-injury patch, we were minus Google+ and we all had Jobs. She has since wielded her background in PR and marketing communications to translate binary code to colorful stories that have been known to wear out readers' mouse scrolls. Alexandra is also a social media enthusiast who 'likes' only what she likes and LOLs only when she laughs out loud.