As a recipient of a 2014 Yahoo Faculty Research and Engagement Program  (FREP) award, Computer Science Professor Christos Faloutsos  will lead an effort to spot fraudsters who buy followers, pay others to post content, and otherwise manipulate trending topics and user popularity on the Tumblr microblogging site.
FREP supports Internet research studies and experiments between academics and their counterparts at Yahoo. In their FREP project, Faloutsos and Alex Beutel , a Ph.D. student in the Computer Science Department , will collaborate with Alejandro Jaimes , director of research at Yahoo, who leads teams in Barcelona, Bangalore and New York City.
Faloutsos said the team hopes to show that it can spot fraudster behavior using a set of algorithms developed by Beutel. These algorithms are excellent in spotting lock-step behavior of the kind exhibited by Tumblr fraudsters, who usually have lots of fake accounts that all like the same posts, follow the same customers and use similar IP addresses, often within the same day.
“We are looking forward to collaborating with our Yahoo colleagues,” Faloutsos said, “and we expect to be surprised from what we will discover within the real data.”
Among the 2014 FREP recipients are two Machine Learning Department  Ph.D. alumni — Jure Leskovec, now an assistant professor of computer science at Stanford University; and Polo Chau, now an assistant professor of computing at Georgia Tech. Both were advised by Faloutsos.
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