How to Identify Bots, Trolls and Botnets
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How to Identify Bots, Trolls and Botnets

Donara Barojan |
November 5, 2018

Over the past two years, words like “bots,” “botnets” and “trolls” have entered mainstream conversations about social networks and their impact on democracies. However, malicious social media accounts are often mislabeled, derailing the conversations about them from substance to definitions.


This post lays out some of the working definitions and methodologies used by the Atlantic Council’s Digital Forensic Research Lab (@DFRLab) to identify, expose and explain disinformation online.

What Is a Bot?

A bot is an automated social media account run by an algorithm, rather than a real person. In other words, a bot is designed to make posts without human intervention. @DFRLab previously provided 12 indicators that help identify a bot. The three key bot indicators are anonymity, high levels of activity, and amplification of particular users, topics or hashtags.

If an account writes individual posts and it comments, replies or otherwise engages with other users’ posts, then the account cannot be classified as a bot.

Bots are predominantly found on Twitter and other social networks that allow users to create multiple accounts.

Credit by - GIJN

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