Not all bots are bad, but all bots need labels: those are Twitter's latest rules for bot accounts that don't want to risk getting booted off the platform. The change was made as part of the company's updated developer policy, which lays out a new policy for accounts that want to use Twitter's developer tools to post automatically.
Under the new terms, developers must "clearly indicate," if an account is a bot account, as well as the identity of the person running the account. The goal, according to Twitter, is to make "easier for everyone on Twitter to know what's a bot - and what's not."
The subject of bots has been particularly thorny for Twitter. The automated accounts are frequently used to spread spam and are favored tools of trolls looking to manipulate conversations or harass other Twitter users. That's why the company started cracking down on "malicious automation" in 2018.
At the same time, Twitter's more creative users have also come up with dozens of harmless, often useful, bots. For example, automated accounts that post every time the San Francisco Bay Area experiences an earthquake (@earthquakeSF) or tweet hourly reminders to drink water, walk outside, and perform other small acts of self care (@tinycarebot).
So when Twitter first began its fight to beat back the "bad" bots, some were also concerned that many of the "good" bots could get swept up in the change. Now, the company's latest policy lays out rules to help all those well-intentioned bots to stay in Twitter's good graces.