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48M Twitter Accounts are Bots: Study

At least a portion of your interactions on Twitter are likely courtesy of bots.

In fact, there are roughly 48 million bots on Twitter, accounting for up to 15 percent of Twitter’s 319 million active accounts, according to a new study from the University of Southern California and Indiana University. That is a far cry from the five to 8.5 percent Twitter identified as bots in a 2014 report to the US Securities and Exchange Commission.

LOGO: Twitter.twitter logo-1024x1002.jpgThe researchers, who implemented a system using more than 1,000 features to identify bots on Twitter, said 15 percent is a “conservative estimate” because the more complex bots are harder to detect and may well have been identified as real people.

The project’s researchers used a machine learning system that extracts more than 1,000 features in six different classes: users and friends meta-data, tweet content and sentiment, network patterns, and activity time series.

There was also “increasing evidence” suggesting the presence “of hybrid human-bot accounts (sometimes referred to as cyborgs) that perform automated actions with some human supervision,” the study found. “Some have been allegedly used for terrorist propaganda and recruitment purposes. It remains unclear how these accounts should be labeled, and how pervasive they are.”

Twitter has yet to comment on the study.

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Jennifer Cowan

Jennifer Cowan is the Managing Editor for SiteProNews.