Bots have been used by artists to beef up their social authority almost from the beginning of social media. In fact, there’s much evidence that the followings of some of the most popular social celebrities may be comprised of as much as 50% bots. Twitter is trying to combat that by experimenting with a new feature that will identify bot accounts, and don’t be surprised if that approach is adopted by other social services if it succeeds.
So how does Twitter indicate you’re viewing a bot? By placing labels on bot accounts so users can see exactly who is interacting with their posts. The new bot labels include a unique bot icon under the profile name with an additional indicator on the account that manages the bot. These labels will also be displayed in your feed with an ‘Automated’ marker beneath the profile name (see the graphic above).
It should be noted that there are good and bad bots. As Twitter explains, ““Not all bots are bad. In fact, high-quality bots can enhance everyone’s experience on Twitter. Our new policy asks that developers clearly indicate (in their account bio or profile) if they are operating a bot account, what the account is, and who the person behind it is, so it’s easier for everyone on Twitter to know what’s a bot – and what’s not.”
The fact of the matter is that this is going to help everyone if it catches on. Users will no longer be impressed by “influencers” that buy their followings when bots can be plainly indicated. Record labels and publishers will have an easier time determining whether the social followings of potential signings are real or not.
Understand that this Twitter feature is still just in the experimental stage and only a small number of accounts can see it. That being said, it’s about time that bot accounts can be identified, as it brings more honesty to social media, something that we’d all like to see.