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New ­tsa Study Describes Method to Detect Dishonesty Online

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"Astroturfing," or posting online content across multiple accounts with multiple identities, is not illegal.

A study by Kim-Kwang Raymond Choo at the University of Texas at San Antonio describes a method for detecting people who post online content dishonestly across multiple accounts.


A method for detecting people dishonestly posting online content across multiple accounts is described in a study conducted by Kim-Kwang Raymond Choo at the University of Texas at San Antonio.

The statistical technique analyzed multiple writing samples from the most prolific online commenters on various news websites.

Choo says the algorithm determined many people expressing their views online were actually all connected to a few singular writers with multiple accounts. This practice, known as "astroturfing," is legal but ethically dubious, according to Choo. Astroturfing is employed by businesses to manipulate social media users or online shoppers, by having one paid associate post bogus reviews on sites about products for sale. On social media, astroturfers set up several false accounts to espouse opinions, creating an illusory consensus when in fact one person is masquerading as many.

Choo says he is currently investigating whether the new algorithm can be used to curb plagiarism and reduce cheating. "In addition to raising public awareness of the problem, we hope to develop tools to detect astroturfers so that social media users can make informed choices and resist online social manipulation and propaganda," he says.

From UTSA Today
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Abstracts Copyright © 2016 Information Inc., Bethesda, Maryland, USA


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