Why It's So Hard to Count Twitter Bots

Automated accounts have become more sophisticated and complex in recent years. Many fake accounts are partly operated by humans, as well as machines, or just amplify messages written by real people (what Menczer calls “cyborg accounts”). Other accounts use tricks designed to evade human and algorithmic detection, such as rapidly liking and unliking tweets or posting and deleting tweets. And of course there are plenty of automated or semi-automated accounts, such as those run by many companies, that aren’t actually harmful.

The Botometer algorithm uses machine learning to assess a wide range of public data tied to an account—not just the content of tweets, but when messages are sent, who

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