Massive networks of fake accounts found on Twitter

Massive collections of fake accounts have been found on Twitter by UK researchers with the largest network tying together more than 50,000 accounts.

Massive networks of fake accounts found on Twitter

Massive collections of fake accounts have been found on Twitter by UK researchers with the largest network tying together more than 50,000 accounts.

Researchers have said that one person or group might be running these accounts. The researchers uncovered the lurking networks while probing Twitter to see how people use it, the BBC reported.

Some of the accounts have been used to fake follower numbers, send spam and boost interest in trending topics.


As of the third quarter of 2016, the microblogging service averaged at 317 million monthly active users. On Twitter, bots are accounts that are run remotely by someone who automates the messages they send and activities they carry out. Some people pay to get bots to follow their account or to dilute chatter about controversial subjects.

"It is difficult to assess exactly how many Twitter users are bots," said graduate student Juan Echeverria, a computer scientist at the University College London (UCL), who uncovered the massive networks.

Echeverria's research began by combing through a sample of 1% of Twitter users in order to get a better understanding of how people use the social network.

However, analysis of the data revealed some strange results that, when probed further, seemed to reveal lots of linked accounts, suggesting one person or group is running the botnet.

These accounts did not act like the bots other researchers had found but were clearly not being run by humans. The researchers are now asking the public via a website and a Twitter account to report bots they spot to help get a better idea of how prevalent they are.

Many bots are obvious because they have been created recently, have few followers, have strange user names and little content in the messages.