That Twitter account you're following may be a bot, but that's not always a bad thing

robot worker

Many of us use Twitter, and we do so for a variety of reasons that include both following friends and family, as well as keeping up with current events. Services like Breaking News and Breaking Weather can be indispensable in daily life.

What many don't know is that some of these services are little more than automated bots. While that sounds scary, and in some cases it is, it's not always something to worry about.

Twitter, in a recent SEC filing, gave its own estimate of the landscape. "Up to approximately 8.5 percent of all active users used third party applications that may have automatically contacted our servers for regular updates without any discernable additional user-initiated action".

While some are certainly in place for spam, others are provided for the good of followers, providing useful information.

Security firm Sophos pointed out that "bots aren't all evil, porn and spam-spewing squiggles of code, of course. There are also squiggles of bot code that carry out good deeds. One example is @EarthquakesSF, a bot that live-tweets earthquakes in the San Francisco Bay area using real-time seismographic information from the US Geological Survey".

Of course Twitter allows the user to decide who (or what) to follow, so it comes down to you. You can keep up with news, company announcements, sports teams or whatever you wish. This is (mostly) an example of bots on the good side of things.

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