5 ways to identify a bot (also a Russian one)

Source: MotherJones.com / own

There are no better experts in fighting against fake news and disinformation than Americans. No wonder. They are wise after the event – for the long time they have been victims of Russian troll army attacks, their bots and fake news meant to spread unrest and arouse social divisions.

Therefore, we are not going to reinvent the wheel but, basing on the text from Mother Jones (MJ) website we are going to describe how to recognise a bot on Twitter. These rules can be perfectly applied to the ambiance of Polish part of this network.

Here are five crucial ways to identify potentially suspicious accounts:

Hyperactivity

There is no way to send few dozen or more tweets everyday (unless there is nothing else to do, so we suggest checking other clues).

Quoted by MJ Ahmer Arif, a researcher of the University of Washington who studies every day the phenomenon of disinformation in the Web says that “if an account has more than 50 to 60 tweets a day, that suggests automation.”

Suspicious avatar

If someone hides behind a username that says nothing (random numbers and letters – indicates serial production of users) and has a generic Twitter image as his profile picture too, we should examine they profile more closely. It is worth checking if the profile picture (a dog, a cat, a nice lady, a handsome soldier) has not been stolen. In order to do it, we search it in Google: right-click on the avatar and select the “copy image address” option. Then go to Google, „images” section and click on “search by image”. Then paste the link. Previous use of the questioned photo is another indicator that the suspicious account is automated.

Shortened URL

On Twitter users often share links to different pages. It can be suspicious if someone uses “URL shorteners” such as bit.ly or tinyurl.com. As the authors from Mother Jones notice, the bot creators use them to track the traffic for those links, but they can be also used as a part of automated programming.

Polyglots or bots?

There are no doubts. If your follower alternately uses Russian, Chinese, Polish, English and Esperanto – maybe he is the smartest guy around, but he can also be a bot.

Unlike popularity

You know that? A completely unknown user suddenly has a thousand or more retweets and thousands of likes. It can indicate that the bot network support itself mutually and shares the content to reach more real users and to create the impression of reliability (Because who shares lies? LOL. Everyone does.)

In such case it is worth checking who sent the piece of information (previous steps). Let check also who follows such „popular” profile. Furthermore, if the content has similar number of “likes and shares” it also should ring the bell. It can indicate the automated reaction from other bots.

Conclusions?

WARNING: Any of these technics is not reliable if we want to use it solo. All of them combine would neither give us 100% of certainty that we detected a bot. However, it is enough to alarm us. Therefore, if we see “super important and controversial content” ended with a link such as bit.ly/qwerrttyds123 sent buy a user “XMY12322”, who boasts about being a beautiful blonde and the tweet is shared by a bunch of similar blondes an brunettes – approach such information carefully.

Source: MotherJones.com / own