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Are most ‘celebrity’ Twitter accounts run by bots?




London, Aug 2: ‘Celebrity’ Twitter accounts — those with more than 10 million followers — show more bot-like behaviour than users with fewer followers, according to new research at the University of Cambridge.

The researchers used data from Twitter to determine whether bots can be accurately detected, how bots behave, and how they impact Twitter activity.

They divided accounts into categories based on total number of followers, and found that accounts with more than 10 million followers tend to retweet at similar rates to bots.

The term ‘bot’ is often associated with spam, offensive content or political infiltration, but many reputable organisations in the world also rely on bots for their social media channels.

“A Twitter user can be a human and still be a spammer, and an account can be operated by a bot and still be benign,” said Zafar Gilani, a PhD student at Cambridge’s Computer Laboratory, who led the research.

“We’re interested in seeing how effectively we can detect automated accounts and what effects they have,” Gilani said.

The findings are scheduled to be presented at the ongoing IEEE/ACM International Conference on Advances in Social Networks Analysis and Mining (ASONAM) in Sydney, Australia.

In order to determine whether an account was a bot (or not), the researchers looked at different characteristics of each account.

These included the account creation date, average tweet frequency, content posted, account description, whether the user replies to tweets, likes or favourites received and the follower to friend ratio.

A total of 3,535 accounts were analysed — 1,525 were classified as bots and 2010 as humans.

The researchers found that bot accounts differ from humans in several key ways. Overall, bot accounts generate more tweets than human accounts.

Bots have been on Twitter for the majority of the social network’s existence – it has been estimated that anywhere between 40 and 60 per cent of all Twitter accounts are bots.

Some bots have tens of millions of followers, although the vast majority have less than a thousand — human accounts have a similar distribution.

The researchers said that despite the sheer volume of Tweets produced by bots, humans still have better quality and more engaging tweets – tweets by human accounts receive on average 19 times more likes and 10 times more retweets than tweets by bot accounts.

Bots also spend less time liking other users’ tweets, according to the study.


Israel opens probe into Facebook after data scandal



Cambridge Analytica data scandal

JERUSALEM: Israeli authorities said Thursday (Mar 22) they had launched an investigation into Facebook’s activities following a scandal over the hijacking of personal data from millions of the social network’s users.

Israel’s privacy protection agency “informed Facebook” of the probe after revelations over data transfers from the tech giant to consultant Cambridge Analytica, the agency said.

It said it was also looking into “the possibility of other infringements of the privacy law regarding Israelis”, it said in a statement released by the justice ministry.

Britain’s Guardian newspaper has reported that Israeli hackers offered material to Cambridge Analytica.

But an Israeli justice ministry spokeswoman said the probe did not involve hackers, focusing rather on whether Israeli users’ rights were violated.

Under Israel’s privacy law, personal data may only be used with consent and for the purpose for which it was handed over, the privacy protection agency said.


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Zebra Technologies launch 2 mobile computing devices for SMBs



Zebra Technologies

New Delhi, March 22: Expanding its portfolio of mobile computers, Zebra Technologies, a global leader in providing solutions and services to enterprises, on Thursday introduced “TC20” mobile computer and “TC25” rugged smartphone in India.

“TC20” will cost $500-$600 while and “TC25” will be available for $530-$600 depending on the specifications, the company said.

“Until now, Small and Medium Businesses (SMBs) had options like struggling with the risk and frustration of using consumer devices or running their operations manually with pen and paper. ‘TC20’ and ‘TC25’ give SMBs a better choice,” Deep Agarwal, Regional Sales Director-India, Zebra Technologies, said in a statement.

Both the devices feature 4.3-inch screens and run Android Nougat Operating System (OS).

Zebra’s “TC20” is a lightweight and durable mobile device developed for indoor use by sectors such as retail and hospitality while “TC25” would allow real-time operational visibility on the field for SMBs in logistics or services industries, the company added.

The devices also support voice communications over wireless LAN while “TC25” supports 4G/LTE connectivity too.

“TC20” and “TC25” have been designed for 1D and 2D barcode scanning and Radio-Frequency Identification (RFID) tag reading.

The TC2-series devices can capture barcodes substantially quicker than the cameras on consumer smartphones, thus saving time, the company said.

Designed as an enterprise line of business smartphone, both the devices are powered by software such as Datawedge, StageNow and Mobility Extensions (Mx).


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Anxiety, depression can trigger smartphone addiction




London, March 22: People who are less emotionally stable and suffer from anxiety and depression are more likely to be addicted to their smartphones, according to a research.

Emotional stability is characterised by being emotionally resilient. The study found that being less emotionally stable was associated with problematic smartphone behaviour.

People who struggle with their mental health are more likely to intensively use their smartphone as a form of therapy and that the less conscientious individuals are, the more likely they are to be addicted to their phones.

As levels of anxiety increase, problematic smartphone use also increases, the findings showed.

“Problematic smartphone use is more complex than previously thought and our research has highlighted the interplay of various psychological factors in the study of smartphone use,” Zaheer Hussain, Lecturer in Psychology at the University of Derby in Britain, said in a statement.

“This is because people may be experiencing problems in their lives such as stress, anxiety, depression, family problems, so in that state they are emotionally unstable, meaning they may seek respite in very excessive smartphone use. This is worrying,” Hussain said.

For the study, a team of psychologists conducted an online study with 640 smartphone users, aged between 13-69 years, to find out the association between smartphone use and personality traits.

The results showed that people who are “closed off” or less open with their emotions are more likely to have problems with smartphone use.

“They may be engaging in passive social network use, where you spend a lot of time on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, browsing other peoples’ comments, pictures, and posts, and not posting anything of your own and not engaging in discussion with others, so there is no real positive social interaction while social networking,” Hussain noted.


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