Skip to Main Content
Twitter is a new web application playing dual roles of online social networking and microblogging. Users communicate with each other by publishing text-based posts. The popularity and open structure of Twitter have attracted a large number of automated programs, known as bots, which appear to be a double-edged sword to Twitter. Legitimate bots generate a large amount of benign tweets delivering news and updating feeds, while malicious bots spread spam or malicious contents. More interestingly, in the middle between human and bot, there has emerged cyborg referred to either bot-assisted human or human-assisted bot. To assist human users in identifying who they are interacting with, this paper focuses on the classification of human, bot, and cyborg accounts on Twitter. We first conduct a set of large-scale measurements with a collection of over 500,000 accounts. We observe the difference among human, bot, and cyborg in terms of tweeting behavior, tweet content, and account properties. Based on the measurement results, we propose a classification system that includes the following four parts: 1) an entropy-based component, 2) a spam detection component, 3) an account properties component, and 4) a decision maker. It uses the combination of features extracted from an unknown user to determine the likelihood of being a human, bot, or cyborg. Our experimental evaluation demonstrates the efficacy of the proposed classification system.