When Bots Socialize for Fame and Money November 6, 2011 8:39 PMSubscribe
The Socialbot Network - A UBC study suggests that many Facebook users will friend total strangers. Researchers said they collected 250 gigabytes of information from Facebook users by using socialbots — fake Facebook profiles created and controlled by computer code (sic). The researchers said they got the approval of UBC’s behavioural research ethics board. The data they collected was encrypted and anonymized and deleted after they completed their data analysis. The researchers found that even operating the socialbot network (SbN) at a conservative pace, each socialbot could collect on average 175 new chunks of publicly inaccessible data per day.
The fake Facebook profiles, which were set up with names, photos and computer-generated status updates, sent friend requests to about 5,000 random Facebook users. When people accepted those friend requests, the socialbots followed up by putting out friend requests to friends of the initial group.
As a result, it took only eight weeks for researchers to acquire 250 gigabytes of personal information from Facebook users.