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Mass-scale Manipulation of Twitter Trends Discovered

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Checking one's Twitter feed.

New research has found that almost half of local Twitter trending topics in Turkey are fake.

Credit: iStock/EPFL

The Twitter Trends platform's algorithm for identifying and alerting Twitter users to popular hashtag-fueled topics is vulnerable to mass-scale manipulation, according to researchers at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, Lausanne (EPFL).

They found that in failing to account for deletions, the Twitter Trending Topics-deciding algorithm can be influenced by hackers to elevate specific topics to the top of Twitter Trends, despite deleting their tweets containing the candidate trend soon after.

EPFL's Tugrulcan Elmas said attackers are using both fake accounts and accounts compromised either by malware or stolen credentials, with the result that "47% of local trends in Turkey and 20% of global trends are fake, created from scratch by bots."

Despite alerting Twitter of the exploit, Elmas said the bug has not been corrected.

From EPFL News (Switzerland)
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