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Twitter is starting to label accounts run by bots

The feature is testing with ‘a few accounts’ currently.

twitter app screenshot showing an account labeled as being run by a bot
Image: Twitter

If you’ve ever wondered if there was an actual human behind that Twitter account you’re following, it’s about to get a whole lot easier to tell. Twitter is trialing a new feature that labels Twitter accounts that are automated, so you have more understanding of who you interact with on the platform.

The label will show on both the profile and on individual tweets, and will also let you know which human-controlled account set up the automation. That’s huge for transparency, instantly showing you if that news account or celebrity account is actually run by a person.

The elephant in the room here is that the platform is only labeling “good bots” at this time. Those include “bots that help you find vaccine appointments and disaster early warning systems. When these accounts let you know they’re automated, you get a better understanding of their purpose when you’re interacting with them.” The labeling is also being done by invite, with the label only being applied after the account administrator accepts the invitation.

Twitter hasn’t said anything about labeling malicious bots that spread scams or misinformation, possibly because those are supposedly removed from the account when they’re noticed or reported.

Currently, the Automated Account label is available to around 500 Developer Accounts, ie: those that use Twitter’s API for managing the account. Participating in the label isn’t a requirement for developers at this time, but Twitter told TechCrunch that it might be a required element in the future.

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