Automated accounts on Twitter will carry a label that lets users know they are bots, the microblogging site announced in a tweet. The company said that it will offer the label, in a test run first, to over 500 developer accounts, TechCrunch reported. The microblogging service did not reveal the duration of the test run but The Verge added that the feature will be available to all developers by the end of this year. The “Automated” tag allows users to differentiate between automated accounts from those operated by humans. The labels will provide a better understanding of the purpose of automated accounts in the interest of transparency for users.
What's a bot and what's not? We're making it easier to identify #GoodBots and their automated Tweets with new labels.
Starting today, we’re testing these labels to give you more context about who you're interacting with on Twitter. pic.twitter.com/gnN5jVU3pp
— Twitter Support (@TwitterSupport) September 9, 2021
The social networking platform had been exploring the option of labelling bots for the last three years. Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey disclosed that Twitter was considering identifying bots during a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing in 2018, TechCrunch reported then.
“We can certainly label and add context to accounts that come through our API. It’s an idea that we have been considering over the past few months. It’s really a question of the implementation but we are interested in it. And we are going to do something along those lines,” he was quoted as saying.
Twitter began by asking developers to point out whether their account was a bot in account profiles when it updated its Developer Policy last year. The new feature will streamline compliance with the policy as developers will not have to update their bio manually. The label may be made mandatory for all developers who run automated accounts in the future, TechCrunch added.
Who are the developers included in the test run?
Examples of automated accounts on Twitter include bots that help find vaccine appointments, and disaster early warning systems, Twitter elaborated in its FAQ. These are accounts which the company considers as “good bots”. The new feature is not designed to identify bad bots which pose as people to spread misinformation or spam, according to TechCrunch.
Here’s how an “Automated” label will appear on profile pages for accounts that have activated the labels:
Some of the developers listed by Twitter are:
- @earthquakesSF: It is a public service account which provides earthquake updates.
- @vax_progress: This bot offers updates on COVID-19 vaccination progress in America.
- @last100bills: A bot which offers a breakdown of the last 100 bills introduced in the U.S. Congress.
- @AltTxtReminder: It is a bot which focuses on accessibility by alerting users when they post images without Alt Text.
- @met_drawings: This automated account shares public domain works from the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Drawings & Prints department.
- @EmojiMashupBot: It creates new emojis out of two random emojis.
What are the other features Twitter has announced recently?
Twitter has added quite a few features on its platform in the last few months. Here are some of them:
- Communities: Twitter said it is testing Communities, a feature similar to Facebook Groups and Reddit subreddits that lets users find and tweet to people with similar interests.
- Ticketed Spaces: Handpicked users will be able to create paid gatherings on Twitter’s audio chat room feature, The company opened up applications for content monetisation on Spaces in June. It is experimenting with the feature on iOS for now but hopes to bring it to all users soon.
- Super Follow: The company launched its paid subscription feature called ‘Super Follow’ last month. It said that the feature will at present only be available to iOS users in the US and Canada, although it will expand to iOS, Android, and web users worldwide over time.
- Emoji reactions for tweets: The feature will provide emoji reactions for tweets that go beyond a “Like” reaction. The feature will initially be available to users in Turkey. It added that it might expand it to users in more countries depending on the initial response.
- Full-width photos and videos: It is testing edge-to-edge media in tweets on iOS to give users a borderless view for photos and videos on their timelines.
- Labels for misleading tweets: The platform rolled out a feature in the United States, South Korea, and Australia, where users will be able to flag tweets that come across as misleading in August 2021. It introduced labels such as manipulated media and synthetic media first in February 2020.
- Birdwatch: The microblogging site tested a tool called “Birdwatch” in January this year which lets users identify the information they believe is false or misleading. The users write notes about tweets they consider untrue or that may contain misinformation.
The social media platform is also working on a label to memorialise people after their demise, a feature that is scheduled to be available this year, as per The Verge. It also had to discontinue Fleets as the platform did not witness “an increase in the number of new people joining the conversation with Fleets like it had hoped”.
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