As I was reading through the tweets with a #trident hashtag I found a succession of tweets from different accounts that were identical and posted within seconds of one another.
What is the likelihood that a dozen different people with distinct first and last names post the same thing at almost the same time?
So I went on to investigate a little further and here is what I found.
- These accounts follow between 70 to 100 people.
- They in turn are followed by 50 to 70.
- In terms of post, some like Josh Wallace and Sarah Bentall have posted 12.5k times while others likeLayla Hare and Mandy Blume. have posted very close to 5800 times.
- They tend to follow one another, so for instance, Mandy Blume, follows Jaime Frazer who follows Layla Hare who follows back Mandy Blume.
- They post only news links in the same order at the same time.
Quentin Willson encouraging the use of electric carshttps://t.co/h1d3q6voDp
— Mandy Blume (@blumeflume) January 23, 2017
Quentin Willson encouraging the use of electric carshttps://t.co/n7Mk50HS1q
— Sophia Hammond (@soffyhams) January 23, 2017
It is difficult to believe that a dozen humans would have such a coordinated pattern of posting. More like this is the result of algorithmic posting. This is not unlike a similar pattern I had found on Linkedin earlier this year.
This suggests that if we wanted to find out a way to identify non-human twitter accounts we should look for the following features:
- small to negligible standard deviation in terms of
- number of times
- time of posting
- date accounts created
- 90% or more similarity in posts
- accounts link to one another to make the numbers and influence analytics