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Huge Networks of False Accounts found on Twitter


Researchers of UK accidentally exposed lurking networks at the time of probing Twitter to find out how the people use it. Some accounts were used for faking the follower numbers, sending spam, and increasing interest in topics that are trending.

Juan Echeverria, a graduate student and UCL computer scientist, who uncovered massive networks, said that it was difficult to evaluate the exact number of Twitter users who are bots.

The research of Mr. Echeverria started by combing 1% Twitter users sample for understanding better, how the people are using the social network.

However, the data analysis revealed few strange results which, when investigated further, seems to reveal many linked accounts, that indicates a group or one person is behind the botnet. BBC news posted on January 24th, 2017, stating that these accounts don't act like bots which were found by other researchers, but clearly humans are not running these.

The public are now asked by the researchers via a Twitter account and a website to report the bots spotted by them to help in getting a far better idea about their prevalence. Several bots are evident as they were created in recent times, have hardly any followers, have odd user names and small content in messages.

The 350,000 bots network stood out, as all accounts in it share many subtle characteristics which revealed that they are linked.

The latest work of the pair had exposed a bigger bots network, which seems to have over 500,000 accounts.

Dr. Zhou said that it was difficult to identify who was actually behind collections of false accounts; even though there were proof that some percentage of accounts are rented or sold because they are now following users of Twitter outside main bot network.

A spokesman of Twitter said that they had clear automation policy, which was "strictly enforced". The users were prohibited from writing programs which followed or un-followed the accounts automatically, or which "favourited" tweets in bulk. He added that automated responses "degraded" experience for the other users and was barred. He also said that although we have tools and systems for detecting spam on the Twitter, but we also depend on the users for reporting the spamming.

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