Social bot research featured on CACM, IEEE Computer covers

July 09, 2016

Research on detection of social bots by OSoMe faculty members Alessandro Flammini and Filippo Menczer, former IUNI research scientist Emilio Ferrara, and graduate students Clayton A Davis, Onur Varol, and Prashant Shiralkar was featured on the covers of the two top computing venues: the June issue of Computer (flagship magazine of the IEEE Computer Society) and the July issue of Communications of the ACM (flagship publication of the ACM).

Social bots are often benign, but some are created to harm, by tampering with, manipulating, and deceiving social media users. They have been used to infiltrate political discourse, manipulate the stock market, steal personal information, and spread misinformation. The detection of social bots is therefore an important research endeavor. The IEEE Computer paper titled The DARPA Twitter Bot Challenge (preprint) presents lessons learned from the social bot detection challenge organized by DARPA, in which our team placed third among many large academic and research teams. The CACM article titled The Rise of Social Bots (pdf) reviews the potential threats of social bots and a taxonomy of the different detection systems proposed in the literature, including our own Botometer tool.

Our paper Online Human-Bot Interactions: Detection, Estimation, and Characterization, presented at ICWSM 2017, includes the technical details of our algorithm and an analysis of bot behavior, as well as an estimate of what portion of social media accounts may be bots. These findings were covered by CNBC, Wall Street Journal, New York Times, Forbes, PC Magazine, Sky, NBC News, CBS News, ABC News, The Times, Bloomberg, Slate, Vice, Mother Jones, Yahoo Finance, Sacramento Bee, SFGate, San Francisco Examiner, etc.