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Home > Smart Living> Innovation > The good Twitter bots among us

The good Twitter bots among us

Twitter bots aren’t always a nuisance or spam. They can help you take screenshots, unroll long threads, set reminders for tweets and do much more

This file photo illustration shows a phone screen displays the Twitter logo on a Twitter page background.
This file photo illustration shows a phone screen displays the Twitter logo on a Twitter page background. (AFP)

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According to a recent study by an Israeli cybersecurity company, around 12% of users on the microblogging site Twitter are bots. What exactly are these bots? The American cybersecurity firm NortonLifeLock refers to “Twitter bots” as zombies.

Automated Twitter accounts controlled by bot software, they are programmed to perform tasks resembling those of an average user—liking and retweeting tweets, following other users—though their purpose is to tweet and retweet content for specific goals on a large scale. So, the purpose of such bots and their activity can be both helpful and harmful.

Also read: Are you an Instagram or Twitter shopper?

Before Elon Musk’s $44 billion (around 3.4 trillion) Twitter deal went bust, he had said one of his priorities would be to remove spam bots. Twitterverse, however, also has useful, productive and fun bots. Call them helpful zombies, if you wish.

One of the earliest of these can be traced to 2007: EveryWord, an open-source bot created to tweet every word in the English language. In the 15 years since, Twitter bots have diversified—and how. Today bots can help you take screenshots, set reminders, unroll long threads that are otherwise difficult to follow, download videos and GIFs, convert Twitter threads to audio (look up Thread to Voice or @ThreadVoice) and much more.

Thread Reader App (@threadreaderapp): One of the most popular bots, it helps you read threads more easily. Twitter threads are becoming popular, with everyone from subject matter experts to influential Twitter personalities using them to tell stories or keep users engaged as they elaborate on a topic. Reading threads, however, can be exhausting. Enter Thread Reader App bot. To use it, you just have to reply to (or quote) any tweet of the thread you want to unroll and mention the bot’s handle with the keyword “unroll”. The bot then sends you a link on Twitter that gives you all the tweets in the thread on one page.

EveryWord (@everyword): Started in 2007 by Allison Parrish, @everyword “twittered” every word in the English language, completing its mission in 2014. The handle, which would tweet a word every 30 minutes, became a cult among lexicon lovers. When @everyword ceased to exist, Parrish wrote a blog thanking Twitter users for making it a success—even today, the handle has close to 57,000 followers.

EveryColor (@everycolorbot): Moving from favourite words to favourite colours, @everycolorbot is a Twitter account that tweets, you guessed it, colours. Created by a Seattle, US-based game and software developer, Colin, @everycolorbot tweets a new colour every hour with its corresponding hex code—a type of HTML colour code. In an interview with Mashable, the bot’s creator explained how the automation behind the scenes works: “Every time it goes to tweet a new color, it reads the last tweet it made, then uses the hex code in that tweet to pick up where it left off before moving on to tweet the next color.” It’s going strong, with more than 203,000 followers.

Tinycarebot (@tinycarebot): Remember the Doomscrolling Reminder Bot Lounge wrote about a few issues back? The Tinycarebot is a similar bot that reminds you to take small breaks and focus on self-care. Compared to the Doomscrolling Bot, which reminds you to stop wasting time on Twitter, the tweets from Tinycarebot are accompanied by a corresponding emoji. In fact, the bot, created by Canadian author and illustrator Jonny Sun, was updated recently for a post-covid world, to set reminders “about washing your hands, not touching your face, taking your vitamins and medicine, checking in on your friends, and a few other things”. Close to 151,000 followers are listening to Tinycarebot.

Screenshoter Bot (@screenshoter): This will enhance productivity and save time. A lot of us tend to share screenshots of tweets on other platforms—Instagram, for example. But it’s a long process. Take a screenshot, edit the image to avoid unnecessary visual elements and then share. @screenshoter makes the drill easier. Just tagging @_screenshoter gives you a color screenshot of the tweet. You can even get these tweets in dark and light mode. Thanks to its growing popularity—the bot, introduced in April, has close to 63,800 followers—the creators have come up with a new website (screenshoter.live) where users can paste the link to a tweet and get their screenshot, pronto.

A handy alternative for all those who do not like bookmarking tweets.
A handy alternative for all those who do not like bookmarking tweets.

Remind me of this tweet (@RemindMe_OfThis): You can think of it as an automated assistant that will send timely reminders on tweets you might want to revisit later. A week? Sure. A month? Why not? A year? Consider it done. All you have to do is mention @RemindMe_OfThis in a tweet and tell it when to send you a reminder. This could prove to be a handy alternative for all those who do not like bookmarking tweets. It already has plenty of users on board—433,100 followers.

Save your video bots

There are two-three bots in this category, with no clear winner. The likes of @SaveMyVideo and GetVideoBot (@GetVid_) download Twitter videos and GIFs for you as soon as you mention them in a tweet.

A bot like no other: Some other notable mentions

@Wayback_exe: Twitter is a treasure trove of things past. @Wayback_exe generates screenshots of old websites in old browsers. It tweets every two hours, picking up data from the Wayback Machine, an initiative of the Internet Archive and a digital archive of the World Wide Web.

@EmojiMashupBot: Emojis are all the rage. Wouldn’t it be fun to combine two emojis and see the results? The Emoji Mashup Bot does just that—creating new emojis out of two random ones and tweeting them out every hour.

Earthquake Robot (@earthquakeBot): While we can’t quite predict natural disasters yet, the Earthquake Robot tweets about any earthquakes 5.0 or greater as they happen. It uses data from the US Geological Survey.

Also read: What Twitter Gynaec doesn’t understand

  • FIRST PUBLISHED
    05.08.2022 | 03:30 PM IST
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