A Step-by-Step Guide to Recognizing Bots and Trolls on Social Media
Over the last two quarters, Facebook has found and destroyed over 1.3 billion phony accounts, according to the company. Twitter cleans up dormant and false accounts on a regular basis, eliminating on average 6% of all accounts per cleanup.
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So, how do you tell the difference between phony accounts, bots, and trolls on social media? When do you need to react?
Fake accounts are a genuine problem, and it isn’t limited to politics. Competitors with nefarious intentions can engage bots and trolls to propagate false information about your organization, product, or service.
On Twitter or Facebook, how can you spot a bot?
It’s not difficult to be truthful. However, determining whether or not a specific account is a bot is not always straightforward.
To begin, there are a few indicators that indicate a phony account. It’s important to remember that the existence of just one of these indicators isn’t enough to detect a bot. A combination of various indicators is required to classify an account as phony.
The profile image is the first sign of a bogus account. It’s suspicious if you don’t have a profile image. You may always run a reverse image search of an account’s profile if you feel it is phony.
If the same profile image shows on multiple accounts, the chances of this being a troll or a bot are very high. The same is true when you discover that the image used is of someone else, either a genuine person or a stock photo.
After that, have a look at the user name. A large number of numbers, as well as gibberish such as “Xsthasco” or “Anna983539,” may suggest that this is a bogus account. However, keep in mind that some people refuse to change their default Twitter account, which does not necessarily imply that they are paid Russian trolls.
Then there’s account behavior, which is one of the more powerful indications. Examine how frequently the account tweets or posts; does it tweet infrequently, with months-long silences punctuated by bursts of tweets? Do they tweet at a two-second interval? If that’s the case, you’ve probably just found a bot. Hurray?
Still undecided? Keep an eye on what they post. Do they publish in a variety of languages? Unlike Canada’s Prime Minister, who tweets in both English and French — both of which are official languages in the country – and sends the identical message in both languages. Many people can communicate fluently in multiple languages.
If the account sends out bursts of tweets in one language, then switches to another, then another, it’s most likely a bot for hire. During the protests in Poland against judicial reform, some of the most active Twitter accounts were bots that had previously tweeted in Indonesian, Chinese, and Portuguese.
Another sign of fakeness is if the majority of tweets are just retweets with no commentary or just mentions of other accounts. This strategy is used to get to Twitter’s Most Popular tab, giving the impression that this is what the majority believes or that this is a significant issue.
What should you do if you come across a phony account?
The remedy is simple: the best and easiest approach to deal with a troll or bot (if you’re almost confident of it) is to flag and report them.
The remainder will be handled by the social media platform. Also, if you think an account is a troll or a bot, don’t respond to its posts or comments. It’s a waste of your time, therefore prohibit them immediately. The old online adage “don’t feed the troll” still holds true. That’s that about “A Step-by-Step Guide to Recognizing Bots and Trolls on Social Media”
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