Article Information

“VKONTAKTE” FAKE ACCOUNTS AND THEIR INFLUENCE ON THE USERS' SOCIAL NETWORK

Adelia Kaveyevaa (corresponding author. E-mail: adele.kaveeva@mail.ru), Konstantin Gurinb

a Kazan Federal University, Kazan, Russia

b Udmurt State University, Izhevsk, Russia

Citation: Kaveyeva A., Gurin K. (2018) Iskusstvennyye profili “VKontakte” i ikh vliyaniye na sotsial'nuyu set' pol'zovateley [“VKontakte” fake accounts and their influence on the users' social network]. Zhurnal sotsiologii i sotsialnoy antropologii [The Journal of Sociology and Social Anthropology], 21(2): 214–231 (in Russian). https://doi.org/10.31119/jssa.2018.21.2.8

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Abstract. The paper deals with the fake accounts in online social networks and resulting data misrepresentation about the structure of network users’ interactions. Fakes create an additional noise in the data; therefore investigation of the network as a social space becomes difficult. The intervention of fakes leaves a mark on both the network structure and on its properties. The estimation of the number and influence of fakes is also important for sampling large networks, since the analysis of complete networks is often impossible because of their size.

The aim of the present paper is the impact assessment of the fake accounts on the characteristics of a local friendship network between users of the VKontakte site (on the example of Izhevsk residents). The key characteristics recognizing a fake were emphasized. The design of the classifier (based on random forest algorithm) to determine the authenticity of the account was also presented. It was shown which network metrics in particular are affected by the presence of fake profiles by comparing the network topology before and after deleting the fake accounts from it. It was found, that as the fakes are removed, the less integrated participants lose contact with the main part of the network and the number of its components increases. Thus, fakes represent strong link concentrators distributed throughout the network, overestimating the observed levels of assortativity and transitivity.

Keywords: social network analysis, VKontakte, data analysis using R, fake accounts, online communities.

Acknowledgements. The authors thank Dmitry Sorokin from ITMO University who developed ‘VKR’ package for R programming language. This research was financially supported by the Russian Government Program of Competitive Growth of Kazan Federal University.

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