Researchers in the UK has found out that more than 350,000 accounts in Twitter are actually fake and controlled by bots. These bot accounts are used by people to manipulate the number of followers and trending topics through sending spams.
Bot accounts affect many sensible topics in twitter especially if they involve a political cause. They are usually controlled by someone from afar. Tracking them down is even a difficult task because of the sheer number.
The discovery of these bot accounts is accidental after researchers got a sample of 1% of Twitter users. The research, led by Juan Echeverria of UCL, aims to provide a better understanding on how people in Twitter acts. However, they accidentally uncover a network of bots.
Networks functions differently from the usual Twitter bot accounts. That is why Twitter failed to detect them.
Since automated accounts are not legal in Twitter, the researchers reported through a website and a Twitter account.
The bot accounts were identified because of few content and strange names. Other identity factors include: tweets coming from inhabited places, direct messages are sent only through Windows phones, and most of the quotes are coming from Star Wars novels.
Twitter has already taken due action in eliminating fake accounts and their effort is praiseworthy. Perhaps, Echeverria’s work will aid them in uncovering more of these accounts.
If the fake accounts will not be controlled, it has scary implications. Anyone can maliciously pursue one’s agenda through the Twitter platform and people might think something is a big thing because many are talking about that something without realizing the the buzz was not made by humans.
Through the power of online demographics, the trend boards will suggest Twitter users of the desire of many people.