IU Team Develops Software to Battle Election Disinformation

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(image courtesy of Pixabay/Chayka1220) (image courtesy of Pixabay/Chayka1220)
BLOOMINGTON -

As the country moves through another presidential election cycle, researchers at Indiana University's Observatory on Social Media hope to minimize online dis-information about candidates through new software, called BotSlayer.

IU says the software scans social media to detect evidence of automated Twitter accounts -- or "bots” -- pushing messages in a coordinated manner.

Campaign offices and issue-driven organizations often use tweets from fake accounts to manipulate public opinion, according to the university.

"We developed BotSlayer to make it easier for journalists and political campaigns to monitor potential new disinformation campaigns that attempt to manipulate public opinion using bots," said Filippo Menczer, a professor in the IU School of Informatics, Computing and Engineering and director of the Observatory on Social Media.

Menczer says BotSlayer gives groups and individuals of any political affiliation the power to detect coordinated disinformation campaigns in real-time -- without any prior knowledge of these campaigns. He says the system uses an “anomaly detection algorithm" to quickly report trending activity when there’s a sudden surge in Twitter activity.

"If there is a suspicious spike in traffic around some specific topic, BotSlayer allows you to spot it very quickly so you can investigate the content and its promoters and, if there appears to be abuse of the platform, report it or communicate to your followers about it," said Menczer.

The Botslayer software is free and open to the public.

Here’s a link to check it out.

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