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Twitter Bots

Social media is everywhere, even GPS apps like Waze and fitness apps like Fitbit have a social media aspect to them. One of the largest social media sites to rise within the last decade. With a monthly active user base larger than the United State’s population, members are able to stay up to date with current events and see posts by friends, celebrities and companies. The use of hashtagging and retweeting has created a vibrant and interactive network of users. Not all these users are as they seem, however.

“Bot” accounts are plaguing the website. Twitter estimates that 5% of all users are actually bot accounts. Within the heavily active political sphere of twitter this estimated bot number jumps up to 15%. The task of these bots appears to be provoke chaos and perpetuate conflict in an already very divided country. The bots are being used to spread misinformation either by posting links to fraudulent websites or retweeting other accounts’ false post.

One potential way to combat these bot accounts is through the use of artificial intelligence. “A tool developed by the Indiana University Network Science Institute and the Center for Complex Networks and Systems Research” called Botometer uses machine learning to determine the probability that an account is a bot. It rates accounts that are potential bots. Ratings above 48% are considered potential and ratings above 60% are considered likely. The accounts that have been tagged by the botometer account, probabot, all seem to be very similar posts of similar content and may all be run by the same person. One question with this botometer is how it goes about flagging accounts that are isolated from other groups of spam accounts and cannot be found my mutual following or tweets. Overall this shows promise as a way to reduce the number and impact of bots.

Bot-hunting Twitter bot sniffs out bogus political tweets


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October 2017