How hackers have manipulated Twitter’s trending algorithm for years

A new study has discovered a vulnerability in Twitter’s trending algorithm that makes the platform susceptible to astroturfing attacks. Researchers from the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne (EPFL) found that the social network doesn’t consider whether a tweet has been deleted when determining which keywords should trend. As a result, attackers can artificially push topics up the list of Twitter trends and then remove evidence of the manipulation. The researchers call this new form of attack “ephemeral astroturfing:” In this attack, a chosen keyword or topic is artificially promoted by coordinated and inauthentic activity to appear popular, and, crucially, this activity is…

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