New York: So you all along thought you followed only real people on Twitter? Know now that automated accounts called "bots" can infiltrate the defences of the social networking site and emerge influential too, an experiment showed.
Automated bots not only can evade detection but also gather more than double an average user`s followers and become influential among various social groups.
"Over the 30 days during which the experiment was carried out, 38 out of the 120 `socialbots` were suspended," Carlos Freitas from Federal University of Minas Gerais in Brazil and his colleagues, who let the "socialbots" loose on Twitter, were quoted as saying.
It means 69 percent of the socialbots evaded the defences set up by Twitter to prevent automated posting.
The researchers made the profile, defined their gender and a few followers to start off with, some of which were other bots.
The bots generate tweets either by reposting messages that others have posted or by creating their own synthetic tweets using a set of rules.
During the experiment, the 120 socialbots received a total of 4,999 followers from 1,952 different users.
And more than 20 percent of them picked up over 100 followers, more followers than 46 percent of humans on Twitter.
The researchers also monitored the Klout score (an online service that measures the influence of Twitter accounts) of each of their socialbots to see how they fared.
"We find that the socialbots achieved Klout scores of the same order of (or, at times, even higher than) several well-known academicians and social network researchers," the researchers added.
It is a finding that may have significant implications for certain types of groups on Twitter, MIT Technology Review reported.