Massive collections of fake accounts are lying dormant on Twitter, possibly used to spread spam or suspicious links, according to new research.
UK researchers accidentally uncovered the lurking networks while probing Twitter to see how people use it.
On Twitter, bots are accounts that are run remotely by a person.
Juan Echeverria Guzman and Shi Zhou, the man’s supervisor and senior lecturer at University College London discovered the bots which possibly spread spam or suspicious links.
“It is difficult to assess exactly how many Twitter users are bots,” said Echeverria, a computer scientist at University College London, who uncovered the massive networks.
The research began by combing through a sample of one per cent of Twitter users in order to get a better understanding of how people use the social network.
However, the data revealed lots of linked accounts, suggesting one person or group is running the ‘botnet’.
The bots might also be used to fire trending topics and influence data regarding user opinions.
Guzman says that the accounts which were seemingly made in a short window of time act in an exact pattern while it quotes Star Wars novels.
Most of the tweets also seemed to have broken words or have an incomplete sentence.
One sample tweet with a quote coming from Star Wars: Choices of One, says, “Luke’s answer was to put on an extra burst of speed. There were only ten meters #separating them now. If he could cover.”
According to the pair, they will be sharing a paper covering the details in the future.
The researchers will not yet be sharing the acquired data with Twitter yet as the pair are waiting for their current research to be approved in a scientific journal.