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Twitter India will introduce bot badges on its platform, a feature that may help users identify ‘good’ bots or computer-operated accounts that share legitimate information without human intervention.

The feature has been in testing globally since September on the social media platform and will be rolled out to accounts in India now.

This is not the first time that Twitter has spoken about the need to identify bot accounts on its platform to prevent manipulation of trends on the platform, and spreading misinformation. In India, for instance, trends on Twitter in the lead-up to the 2019 Lok Sabha elections were manipulated by bots, according to a report by Atlantic Council’s Digital Forensic Research Lab. Spreading of misinformation was also flagged at the onset of the covid-19 pandemic.

During a 2018 US Senate Intelligence Committee hearing, erstwhile Twitter chief Jack Dorsey said that the company was considering ways to differentiate bots from human accounts. However, he admitted that it could be challenging for the company to segregate human accounts from sophisticated bots that use machine learning to generate tweets that sound natural.

In the latest attempt, Twitter said that it would only identify the ‘good’ bots that could be of some help. “Research found that people wanted more context around the accounts they interact with. This label will help give ‘good bots’, i.e. those that share helpful or relevant information, and intend to genuinely improve the Twitter experience, a way to increase their legitimacy and build trust and transparency with their audience," Twitter said.

Twitter already offers an account verification feature, where it allows individuals from specified sectors to verify themselves as authentic accounts. The specific fields where Twitter offers account verification at the moment include government officials, journalists, publications, companies, entertainment personalities, activists, content creators and sportspeople.

In August 2020, Twitter introduced labels to identify accounts affiliated with national governments, and in February 2021, it further expanded the feature to include government-operated media outlets.

Twitter, however, said that adding the bot icon will be optional for accounts.

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