A language framework for modeling social media account behavior
Observatory on Social Media, Indiana University, Bloomington, Indiana, USA
2 William & Mary, Williamsburg, Virginia, USA
Accepted: 2 August 2023
Published online: 23 August 2023
Malicious actors exploit social media to inflate stock prices, sway elections, spread misinformation, and sow discord. To these ends, they employ tactics that include the use of inauthentic accounts and campaigns. Methods to detect these abuses currently rely on features specifically designed to target suspicious behaviors. However, the effectiveness of these methods decays as malicious behaviors evolve. To address this challenge, we propose a language framework for modeling social media account behaviors. Words in this framework, called BLOC, consist of symbols drawn from distinct alphabets representing user actions and content. Languages from the framework are highly flexible and can be applied to model a broad spectrum of legitimate and suspicious online behaviors without extensive fine-tuning. Using BLOC to represent the behaviors of Twitter accounts, we achieve performance comparable to or better than state-of-the-art methods in the detection of social bots and coordinated inauthentic behavior.
Key words: Social media / Encoding online behavior / Bot detection / Coordination detection
© Springer-Verlag GmbH, DE 2023
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