January 18, 2022

“Introducing BotSight: A New Tool to Detect Bots on Twitter in Real-Time”

From Bleeping Computer:

The new browser extension called BotSight aims to reveal what Twitter accounts are bots or real humans so that you can judge the truthfulness of their tweets.

Social media has become a hotbed of disinformation campaigns disseminated through the use of bots that automatically reply to tweets with false information that fits a particular narrative.


Released by the NortonLifeLock Research Group (formerly known as Symantec Research Labs), the BotSight browser extension will display a small icon and a percentage score next to each account to indicate whether it’s classified as a real person or a bot.

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Source: NortonLifeLock/BotSight

More From Norton LifeLock

BotSight works across the majority of Twitter including search, trending topics, and your home timeline. For the past six months, our team has been diligently scrolling through Twitter with BotSight enabled in order to continuously test and improve both our model and our design. It has also enabled us to better understand bots, contextualizing where they are likely to appear and how they act.

To determine whether an account is a bot, we look at over 20 different distinguishing features per case, including the amount of randomness in the Twitter handle, whether the account is verified, the rate at which it is acquiring followers, and the account’s description. We verified our approach by observing BotSight in action. So far, BotSight’s beta users have successfully analyzed over 100,000 Twitter accounts.

Using BotSight’s classifier on what we believe is the largest archive of Twitter’s historical data ever collected outside Twitter (over 4TB), we found many interesting and surprising things. One is that the problem of disinformation is not as small as Twitter’s numbers suggested on first blush, but also nowhere near the more sensational headlines we’ve seen. We’ve found that about 5% of tweets belong to bots overall, and this percentage has gone down over time, which is a testament to the hard work of Twitter’s Site Integrity team.

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Direct to Browser Extension Download Links

See Also: Tools From the Observatory on Social Media (OSoMe ), Indiana University

About Gary Price

Gary Price (gprice@mediasourceinc.com) is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. Before launching INFOdocket, Price and Shirl Kennedy were the founders and senior editors at ResourceShelf and DocuTicker for 10 years. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at Ask.com, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.