Badly Evolved? Exploring Long-Surviving Suspicious Users on Twitter

  • Majid Alfifi
  • James Caverlee
Conference paper
Part of the Lecture Notes in Computer Science book series (LNCS, volume 10539)


We study the behavior of long-lived eventually suspended accounts in social media through a comprehensive investigation of Arabic Twitter. With a threefold study of (i) the content these accounts post; (ii) the evolution of their linguistic patterns; and (iii) their activity evolution, we compare long-lived users versus short-lived, legitimate, and pro-ISIS users. We find that these long-lived accounts – though trying to appear normal – do exhibit significantly different behaviors from both normal and other suspended users. We additionally identify temporal changes and assess their value in supporting discovery of these accounts and find out that most accounts have actually being “hiding in plain sight” and are detectable early in their lifetime. Finally, we successfully apply our findings to address a series of classification tasks, most notably to determine whether a given account is a long-surviving account.



This work was supported in part by AFOSR grant FA9550-15-1-0149. Majid Alfifi is partially funded by a scholarship from King Fahd University of Petroleum and Minerals. Any opinions, findings and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect those of the sponsors. We’d like to also thank the anonymous reviewers for their helpful feedback.


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Computer Science and EngineeringTexas A&M UniversityCollege StationUSA

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