Twitter to allow accounts to add label indicating if they are automated, in effort to give users more context – but feature remains optional for now
Twitter has introduced a feature allowing developers to self-label “good” bots, in an effort to give users more context about what they are seeing.
Automated accounts, known as bots, are often associated with misinformation and spam.
But Twitter said many bots are helpful, sharing Covid vaccination updates, information about earthquakes or images from museums.
By contrast, some bots pose as people to spread deceptive information.
Twitter has removed tens of millions of suspected bot accounts in recent years, and said it would continue to take action against inauthentic accounts.
In 2018 Twitter chief executive Jack Dorsey addressed the question of bots before the Senate Intelligence Committee, saying the company was considering identifying bots, to the extent that it was able to do so.
He said at the time that it would be difficult to identify bots that use scripting to give the appearance of being human, as opposed to those using Twitter’s API.
Last year the company said it would soon introduce tools to allow users to distinguish between human and automated accounts, and has now rolled out its “Automated Account” label to more than 500 developers.
These developers are to test the feature and provide feedback before it is offered more broadly.
During the test period the label won’t be obligatory.
Twitter said it will use the information from the test period to decide whether to make adopting the label a requirement later on. It didn’t indicate how long the test period is set to run.
The company last year launched a policy of labelling some state-affiliated accounts to indicate “if there’s an agenda” behind them.
Twitter has recently rolled out a number of new features, incuding Communities, tests of emoji reactions, support for full-width photos and videos and a way to “soft block” followers.
The company is also said to be testing a paid service, Twitter Blue, which is expected to be made available for a small monthly fee.