Detecting Malicious Social Bots Based on Clickstream Sequences

Shi, Peining; Zhang, Zhiyong; Choo, Kim-Kwang Raymond
IEEE Access

With the significant increase in the volume, velocity, and variety of user data (e.g., user-generated data) in online social networks, there have been attempted to design new ways of collecting and analyzing such big data. For example, social bots have been used to perform automated analytical services and provide users with improved quality of service. However, malicious social bots have also been used to disseminate false information (e.g., fake news), and this can result in real-world consequences. Therefore, detecting and removing malicious social bots in online social networks is crucial. The most existing detection methods of malicious social bots analyze the quantitative features of their behavior. These features are easily imitated by social bots; thereby resulting in low accuracy of the analysis. A novel method of detecting malicious social bots, including both features selection based on the transition probability of clickstream sequences and semi-supervised clustering, is presented in this paper. This method not only analyzes transition probability of user behavior clickstreams but also considers the time feature of behavior. Findings from our experiments on real online social network platforms demonstrate that the detection accuracy for different types of malicious social bots by the detection method of malicious social bots based on transition probability of user behavior clickstreams increases by an average of 12.8%, in comparison to the detection method based on quantitative analysis of user behavior.