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NEW YORK (CBSNEWS) – study released by the University of Southern California reports that roughly nine to 15 percent of Twitter accounts on the microblogging website are so-called bots controlled by software instead of humans.

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Twitter boasts 319 million monthly active users meaning that this recent revelation equates to nearly 48 million bot accounts, according the university’s high-end figure. Those bots are capable of interactions such as “likes,” “retweets” and “following.”

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The study states that researchers used the following features on Twitter to determine its analysis of bot accounts:

  • Friends
  • Tweet content and sentiment
  • Network patterns
  • Activity time series

A spokesperson from Twitter told CNBC that while bots may have negative connotations, “many bot accounts are extremely beneficial, like those that automatically alert people of natural disasters … or from customer service points of view.”

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