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How to spot a Twitter bot

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Bot accounts are a persistent problem on Twitter, where they can be used to spam out favorable news stories and influence politics more broadly. But as companies and third-party groups have tried to push back against bot campaigns, simply identifying the accounts has proven remarkably difficult.

A new system called the Botometer, built by researchers at Indiana University and Northeastern University, is the perfect example of why. The system looks at over 1,000 factors, ranging from the tweets themselves (including metadata on how and where they were posted) to the composition of followers. “We are using a wide range of signals to compute scores,” said Onur Varel, a Northeastern University researcher who worked on the project. “Depending…

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