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Researchers from the Indiana University and the University of Southern California (USC) in the US using over 1,000 features to fish out bots from the ocean of users on Twitter, has established as much as 15% of Twitter accounts are bots.

The researchers’ report says up to 48 million Twitter accounts are nothing more than just bots. To identify bots, the researchers looked at a specific Twitter accounts’ friends, the content of the tweet, sentiments and the time in-between tweets.

Our estimates suggest that between 9% and 15% of active Twitter accounts are bots,” the researchers said. The researchers also added that some bots are so advanced that they exhibit human-like behavior, so much so that telling them apart from human accounts is very difficult. That said, the 15% (48 million) user accounts on Twitter is a modest figure; in reality, it could be much higher than that.

Many social bots perform useful functions, such as dissemination of news and publications,” but “there is a growing record of malicious applications of social bots. Some emulate human behavior to manufacture fake grassroots political support and promote terrorist propaganda and recruitment” the researchers said.

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