Social Honeypot for Humans: Luring People Through Self-managed Instagram Pages

Sara Bardi, Mauro Conti, Luca Pajola, Pier Paolo Tricomi*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Conference proceedings/Edited volumeConference contributionScientificpeer-review

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Social Honeypots are tools deployed in Online Social Networks (OSN) to attract malevolent activities performed by spammers and bots. To this end, their content is designed to be of maximum interest to malicious users. However, by choosing an appropriate content topic, this attractive mechanism could be extended to any OSN users, rather than only luring malicious actors. As a result, honeypots can be used to attract individuals interested in a wide range of topics, from sports and hobbies to more sensitive subjects like political views and conspiracies. With all these individuals gathered in one place, honeypot owners can conduct many analyses, from social to marketing studies. In this work, we introduce a novel concept of social honeypot for attracting OSN users interested in a generic target topic. We propose a framework based on fully-automated content generation strategies and engagement plans to mimic legit Instagram pages. To validate our framework, we created 21 self-managed social honeypots (i.e., pages) on Instagram, covering three topics, four content generation strategies, and three engaging plans. In nine weeks, our honeypots gathered a total of 753 followers, 5387 comments, and 15739 likes. These results demonstrate the validity of our approach, and through statistical analysis, we examine the characteristics of effective social honeypots.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationApplied Cryptography and Network Security - 21st International Conference, ACNS 2023, Proceedings
EditorsMehdi Tibouchi, XiaoFeng Wang
Number of pages28
ISBN (Print)9783031334870
Publication statusPublished - 2023
Event21st International Conference on Applied Cryptography and Network Security, ACNS 2023 - Kyoto, Japan
Duration: 19 Jun 202322 Jun 2023

Publication series

NameLecture Notes in Computer Science (including subseries Lecture Notes in Artificial Intelligence and Lecture Notes in Bioinformatics)
Volume13905 LNCS
ISSN (Print)0302-9743
ISSN (Electronic)1611-3349


Conference21st International Conference on Applied Cryptography and Network Security, ACNS 2023

Bibliographical note

Green Open Access added to TU Delft Institutional Repository ‘You share, we take care!’ – Taverne project
Otherwise as indicated in the copyright section: the publisher is the copyright holder of this work and the author uses the Dutch legislation to make this work public.


  • Artificial Intelligence
  • Instagram
  • Privacy
  • Social Honeypots
  • Social Networks
  • User Profiling


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