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How To Identify Twitter Bots

On the internet, no one knows you’re a dog. On Twitter, no one knows if you’re a bot and bots are getting good at faking being real people. There was some research done a while back on how to identify Twitter bots and some patterns were identified. For example, a Twitter bot will often have an eight digit number added after its handle. This, among other things, was discovered by researchers at Indiana university and they developed an app called Botometer that lets you check if a Twitter account is real, or if it’s a bot. The app requires that you sign into your Twitter account. If you’d rather not, consider using Bot Or Not which does the exact same thing, minus the sign-in.

Botometer

Visit Botometer and enter the Twitter username of the account you suspect might be a bot. Click the Check User button and sign into your Twitter account. You will get a brief summary of what the app checked and how likely it is that the account is a bot.

You can then check if the account’s followers and friends are bots or not. For each follower and friend, the app tells you how likely it is that you’ve got a Twitter bot on your hands. The web app is based on research so you will get some details as to how the identity of the account was tested. The app tests the content that the account posts, the overall sentiment that it conveys via its Tweets, how many real people are in its network, and other factors.

Bot Or Not

Bot or Not works just as well as Botometer does but it only checks the account handle you give it. It will give you a conclusive answer as to whether an account is a bot or not.

Bot or Not uses machine learning to check if a Twitter account is real or not. It claims to have 95% accuracy so for the ordinary bots that try to sell you weight loss pills or diet regimes, this app will work fine.

There may be more sophisticated bots that can fool Bot or Not, and Botometer but you’re unlikely to see too many of those. The ones that exist aren’t going to be used to sell products. Bots have come under special scrutiny since 2016 where they played a substantial role in manipulating online opinions. Twitter hasn’t done much to combat bots even though, as evidenced by these two web apps, the technology is there. Twitter has options to mute accounts and block egg accounts but that’s about it. If you ever find yourself in a heated debate on Twitter and the other side seems a bit too trollish, consider running their handle through one of these apps.

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