$1.00 per RT #BostonMarathon #PrayForBoston: Analyzing Fake Content on Twitter presented at ecrime 2013

by Aditi Gupta, Hemank Lamba, Ponnurangam Kumaraguru.,

Summary : Online social media has emerged as one of the prominent channel for dissemination of information during real world events. Malicious content is posted during such events, which often results in large scale damage in the real world. We analyzed one such media i.e. Twitter, for content generated during the event of Boston Marathon Blasts, that occurred on April, 15th, 2013. Rumors and malicious profiles were created on Twitter network during this event. The aim of this work is to perform in-depth characterization of what factors influenced in malicious content and profiles becoming viral. Our results showed that 29% of the most viral content on Twitter, during the Boston crisis were rumors and misinformation; while 51% was generic opinions and comments; and rest was true information.
We found that overall social reputation of users tweeting rumors was high, and large number of verified accounts participated in spreading the rumors. Our results showed that overall impact of all users who propagate a rumor at a given time, can be used to estimate the growth of the rumor in future. We also check the validity of a psychology based rumor propagation theory in online social media.
One of the laws that holds true for Twitter rumors was: Easily swayed people are more important than influential people in passing on a rumor. Malicious accounts were created during the Boston event, that were later suspended by Twitter, over six thousand such user profiles were identified by us. We identified closed community and star formation in the network of these suspended profiles.