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Nearly 48 million Twitter accounts are bots: study

Washington, Mar 11, 2017, PTI 18:15 IST

As many as 48 million or up to 15 per cent of active Twitter accounts are social bots rather than people, a new study has claimed.

Researchers from University of Southern California (USC) and Indiana University in the US used over 1,000 features to identify bot accounts on Twitter, in categories including friends, tweet content and sentiment and time between tweets.

"Our estimates suggest that between 9 per cent and 15 per cent of active Twitter accounts are bots," they said.

According to USC's high-end estimate, since Twitter currently has 319 million monthly active users, that translates to about 48 million bot accounts, 'cnbc.com' reported.

Complex bots could have shown up as humans in their model, "making even the 15 per cent figure a conservative estimate," the researchers said.

"Many social bots perform useful functions, such as dissemination of news and publications," however, "there is a growing record of malicious applications of social bots," they said.

"Some emulate human behaviour to manufacture fake grassroots political support and promote terrorist propaganda and recruitment," the researchers added.

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