Twitter is testing a feature that would allow automated accounts to identify as such, giving users more information about the nature of the account that they follow or are considering following.
The microblogging company announced the feature in a tweet on Thursday, September 9, and also added information about it to its Help Center.
The label includes a bot symbol and the word “automated” and appears on the account’s profile and each of its tweets.
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
“When these accounts let you know they’re automated, you get a better understanding of their purpose when you’re interacting with them,” Twitter said.
Broadly speaking, automated accounts, commonly known as bots, come in two flavors: Those that provide misinformation, and those that don’t.
Twitter continues to remove numerous bot accounts tweeting misinformation, but it’s an ongoing fight. The new feature will not only help you to identify the good bots, but will also make clear that the content is posted by a bot, not a human.
Examples of accounts operated by good bots include those that are linked to disaster early warning systems or ones that help you find vaccine appointments. But they can also be more fun like Jon Sondow’s Emoji Aquarium that every few hours automatically tweets “a tiny aquarium with interesting fish.” Sondow already points out in Emoji Aquarium’s profile that the account is automated.
During the test phase, Twitter is operating an invitation-only program that allows selected accounts to use the special label to identify as automated.
It’s worth noting that as this is a test, there’s a chance Twitter could drop the feature if it deems it ineffective. But if users respond positively, Twitter will likely roll it out — or possibly a tweaked version of it — to all users before too long.
In another test revealed this week, Twitter is looking at ways to fill more of the smartphone screen with photos and videos when they appear in the timeline.