chapter  9
23 Pages

Authenticity by Design: Reflections on Researching, Designing and Teaching Socialbots

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

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.