Authenticity by design: reflections on researching, designing and teaching socialbots

Stefano De Paoli*, Leslie Ball, Natalie Coull, John Isaacs, Angus MacDonald, Jonathan Letham

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter (peer-reviewed)peer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


In 2011 CNET news reported the theft of 250 gigabytes of personal data from Facebook (Musil, 2011). The event was the work of researchers (Boshmaf et al., 2011), who demonstrated the vulnerabilities of humans using social media to social engineering attacks. The study showed the extent to which a Social Networking Site (SNS) could be infiltrated by computer programs imitating human behaviour, the so-called socialbots . A socialbot aims at attracting ‘followers’ by building a network of trust relations amongst its followers and convincing other users they are interacting with a person and not a software. The aim of the socialbot could be deception, spamming, the collection of private data or even the distribution of malware. Research on socialbots is still circumscribed and we are starting to see the level of threat that they can have for Internet users. Some contributions to socialbot research have been made in the area of computer security (Boshmaf et al., 2011, Elishar et al., 2012, Wald et al., 2013), studying issues such as socialbot nets or penetration into an organisation via SNSs supported by socialbots.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationSocialbots and their friends
Subtitle of host publicationdigital media and the automation of sociality
EditorsRobert W. Gehl, Maria Bakardjieva
Place of PublicationAbingdon
Number of pages23
ISBN (Electronic)9781315637228
ISBN (Print)9781138639393, 9781138639409
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2016


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