Amid Twitter’s vast number of ongoing tests is a new one that labels bot accounts, making it clear to other users that the tweets are automated, not manually published by an individual. Not all bots are bad, of course; they can be used to, for example, automatically share data from NASA missions or provide users with real-time info on their local weather situation.
A Twitter bot is, put simply, an automated post from a piece of software written by someone who wants to share some variety of information. In many cases, these bot accounts aren’t problematic; some others, however, may be used to automatically share misinformation and incendiary content.
Knowing that you’re looking at a tweet from a bot will help you understand the nature of the communication and how to engage with it — and that’s where Twitter’s new account labels come in. The social media company has shared screenshots of what this new identifier looks like, including its small robot-shaped icon that makes the message unmistakable.
Twitter notes in its FAQ about the test that these labels will increase transparency while making it clear which are good bots and which are spambots. Only a limited number of users are participating in the label test at this time, however; it is on an invite-only basis.
Someone who has an automated account may be invited to identify it as their own with the label. Once that happens, users who visit their bot’s account will see a label making it clear that the posts are automated and which human is behind the account.