Suspended Accounts in Retrospect: An Analysis of Twitter Spam

TitleSuspended Accounts in Retrospect: An Analysis of Twitter Spam
Publication TypeConference Paper
Year of Publication2011
AuthorsThomas, K., Grier C., Paxson V., & Song D.
Other Numbers3220

In this study, we examine the abuse of online social networks at thehands of spammers through the lens of the tools, techniques, andsupport infrastructure they rely upon. To perform our analysis, weidentify over 1.1 million accounts suspended by Twitter for disruptiveactivities over the course of seven months. In the process, wecollect a dataset of 1.8 billion tweets, 80 million of which belongto spam accounts. We use our dataset to characterize the behaviorand lifetime of spam accounts, the campaigns they execute, and thewide-spread abuse of legitimate web services such as URL shortenersand free web hosting. We also identify an emerging marketplaceof illegitimate programs operated by spammers that include Twitteraccount sellers, ad-based URL shorteners, and spam affiliate programsthat help enable underground market diversification.


This material is based upon work supported by the National ScienceFoundation under Grant No. 0433702, 0905631, 0842694,0842695, and 0831501. Any opinions, findings, and conclusionsor recommendations expressed in this material are those of the authorsand do not necessarily reflect the views of the National ScienceFoundation. This work is partially supported by the Office ofNaval Research under MURI Grant No. N000140911081.

Bibliographic Notes

Proceedings of the 2011 Internet Measurement Conference (IMC), Berlin, Germany

Abbreviated Authors

K. Thomas, C. Grier, V. Paxson, and D. Song

ICSI Research Group

Networking and Security

ICSI Publication Type

Article in conference proceedings