Twitter Trends Manipulation: A First Look inside the Security of Twitter Trending

Rama Lakshmi Vemula, M.Venkateswara Rao, Sk. Khaleelullah


In this paper, Twitter trends, a timely updated set of top terms in Twitter, have the ability to affect the public agenda of the community and have attracted much attention. Unfortunately, in the wrong hands, Twitter trends can also be abused to mislead people. In this paper, we attempt to investigate whether Twitter trends are secure from the manipulation of malicious users. We collect more than 69 million tweets from 5 million accounts. Using the collected tweets, we first conduct a data analysis and discover evidence of Twitter trend manipulation. Then, we study at the topic level and infer the key factors that can determine whether a topic starts trending due to its popularity, coverage, transmission, potential coverage, or reputation. What we find is that except for transmission, all of factors above are closely related to trending. Finally, we further investigate the trending manipulation from the perspective of compromised and fake accounts and discuss countermeasures.

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