Peter Kafka

Recent Posts by Peter Kafka

Twitter Gives Spam Apps a Thumbs Down, Ads a “Maybe”

kevin costner jfkIt’s one of those mysteries that are so deep, so mysterious, they may never be solved: When Twitter co-founder Biz Stone says the company would “like to leave the door open for advertising,” what exactly does he mean?

Twitter Kremlinologists are currently scouring Stone’s Delphic statement, contained in a blog post yesterday, announcing changes to the company’s Terms of Service.

My guess: Twitter would like to leave the door open for advertising. One day. Maybe. Possibly. You never know.

Or, as the company notes within the new TOS itself: “We’re leaving the door open for exploration in this area but we don’t have anything to announce.”

Okay. So maybe not quite so mysterious.

The rest of the new TOS seems similarly uneventful, and given that Twitter reserves the right to change any of it at any time–that’s boilerplate language for these things–methinks it’s hard to get worked up about any of this. It’s certainly hard to see a Facebook-style flare-up in the works.

Anyway, if you want to go really, really deep here, go nuts: Twitter has helpfully kept a copy of its old TOS up on the site (nice catch, ReadWriteWeb). So you can compare and contrast to your heart’s content.

One change that might actually be a tiny bit meaningful for run-of-the-mill users comes not from the TOS itself, but from Twitter’s new rules for developers who tap into its data stream to create their own Twitter-powered services.

The relevant language: “Get each user’s consent before sending Tweets or other messages on their behalf. A user authenticating with your application does not constitute consent to send a message.”

If you’ve ever played with a few Twitter apps, you know what Stone and company are  talking about here: You try out some app, give it your account name and password, and the next thing you know it has sent out a Tweet in your name that you didn’t approve.

It usually says something along the lines of “I’m using Fantasticapp and it’s changed my life. You should, too!”

Embarrassing, and/or annoying, but not the end of the world, obviously. And you might even put up with that kind of slippery behavior in another service. But Twitter is both so personal and so public that it needs to be explicit about banning this stuff.


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