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Twitter to crack down on 'bots', bans bulk posting on multiple accounts

Twitter Inc. will no longer allow its users to post identical messages or content from multiple accounts, in a bid to crack down on 'bots' that are allegedly used to make tweets go viral or to spread false news.

The microblogging platform has also prohibited the use of bots, or automated software, to simultaneously perform tasks such as liking, retweeting or following from multiple Twitter accounts.

The changes cover all Twitter users, including those using social media dashboard app TweetDeck. The new rules will apply to all tweets, regardless of whether they are posted at the same time or are scheduled for future posting. Apps that are used to share weather, emergency or public service announcement are not covered by the changes.

Yoel Roth, manager of trust and safety for Twitter's API policy and product trust teams, said in a blog post that the new rules are part of efforts to improve "information quality" as well as to combat "malicious activity targeting the crucial conversations taking place on Twitter — including elections in the United States and around the world."

Social media companies such as Twitter and Facebook Inc. have been asked to testify as part of a probe over allegations of Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election. More recently, U.S. Special Counsel Robert Mueller has accused 13 Russians and three Russian companies of trolling on social media in relation to the election.

Twitter earlier banned advertising from all accounts owned by Russia Today and Sputnik, after the U.S. intelligence community concluded that the Russian government-backed news outlets tried to interfere with the U.S. election. The company also unveiled plans to launch a "transparency center" as part of stricter policies to improve ad transparency.