Bot-MGAT: A Transfer Learning Model Based on a Multi-View Graph Attention Network to Detect Social Bots

Eiman Alothali, Motamen Salih, Kadhim Hayawi, Hany Alashwal

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)


Twitter, as a popular social network, has been targeted by different bot attacks. Detecting social bots is a challenging task, due to their evolving capacity to avoid detection. Extensive research efforts have proposed different techniques and approaches to solving this problem. Due to the scarcity of recently updated labeled data, the performance of detection systems degrades when exposed to a new dataset. Therefore, semi-supervised learning (SSL) techniques can improve performance, using both labeled and unlabeled examples. In this paper, we propose a framework based on the multi-view graph attention mechanism using a transfer learning (TL) approach, to predict social bots. We called the framework ‘Bot-MGAT’, which stands for bot multi-view graph attention network. The framework used both labeled and unlabeled data. We used profile features to reduce the overheads of the feature engineering. We executed our experiments on a recent benchmark dataset that included representative samples of social bots with graph structural information and profile features only. We applied cross-validation to avoid uncertainty in the model’s performance. Bot-MGAT was evaluated using graph SSL techniques: single graph attention networks (GAT), graph convolutional networks (GCN), and relational graph convolutional networks (RGCN). We compared Bot-MGAT to related work in the field of bot detection. The results of Bot-MGAT with TL outperformed, with an accuracy score of 97.8%, an F1 score of 0.9842, and an MCC score of 0.9481.

Original languageEnglish
Article number8117
JournalApplied Sciences (Switzerland)
Issue number16
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2022


  • GNN
  • Twitter
  • bot detection
  • prediction
  • semi-supervised learning
  • transfer learning

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Materials Science
  • Instrumentation
  • General Engineering
  • Process Chemistry and Technology
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Fluid Flow and Transfer Processes


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