Clarification on "auto" following

rest
automation
rules

#1

I’m seeing more and more applications that offer a service where users enter in their “competitor” Twitter accounts, and then the system will follow some of those competitors’ followers each day to try to attract their attention.

To me this seems like a blatant breaking of the rules for auto following. While some of the services claim that the actions are still done by humans and aren’t technically “automated”, I think that still goes against the spirit of the rules which is to prevent bulk or indiscriminate following.

So I guess my first question is… is following the followers of a related account (either automated or manually in bulk) allowed? If they’re really related accounts, is that enough for it to not be considered “indiscriminate”?

Not asking for comments on individual apps. But I’m wanting to know because:

  1. If this is allowed, we would like to add it to our services
  2. If this is NOT allowed, why is Twitter not enforcing it?

Thanks.


#2

This is not in line with our policies that are clearly documented. “Thanks for following” DMs are clearly discouraged.

We are often unable to find some of the smaller and more niche / new services that are evading our policies. Ultimately these rules will be enforced as these violations are discovered.

We strongly recommend against developing apps that operate in these manners as they will be a waste of time to you, your users, and to our policy team.

As I’ve mentioned many times before these situations produce scenarios where we are unable to comment on individual apps for privacy reasons and lead to frustration when developers believe that they are being dealt with unfairly. They are not: we enforce our rules as evenly as possible across the specific instances we aware of.

Fundamentally - if your business model is to build a “follower management” or “get more followers” app on our standard free APIs then you should expect significant challenges as this is not the purpose of providing the API platform today, as our spring blog post clearly stated.

We wish you all the best developing on our standard APIs but we strongly encourage you to read and understand our Developer and user usage policies, which are enforced by both automated machine-learning detection, and manually as we become aware of policy violations ourselves.


#3

Thanks for the fast response, Andy, and hope you’ve been well! Our app is certainly much wider in focus than follower management. But I still don’t (and probably never will) understand why commenting on how some app is allowed to have some particular feature harms anybody on privacy related reasons. What is private about it? I’m not asking for the developers’ names and phone numbers, but if there’s an example of an app that appears to be violating the rules but gets away with it for the long haul, it seems to be a perfectly legitimate question to ask.

If anybody asked the question, “Why is Heroic Social allowed to have feature X?”, I can’t imagine any way you could answer that that would make me feel like our privacy has been violated. Plus, I don’t recall seeing anything in the terms about Twitter agreeing that they would never comment on my app to anyone ever; it certainly seems like some self-imposed, arbitrary restriction. Would you mind expanding on that at all?

Last question which is mildly unrelated: You mentioned that if someone builds a follower management app on the standard free APIs, they will run into trouble… which implies there’s some other non-standard, paid API… is that what these larger apps have access to and thus are able to bend the rules?

I’ll go ahead and name names - Crowdfire, UnfollowSpy, Communit. All old, established apps that still, months after the rule change, still flood my DM inbox with spammy automated messages. As we’ve discussed in the past, I just want to be treated fairly and equally so we can attempt to compete with apps that have some overlapping features as ours.


#4

We will not comment on any individual application or developer for any reason on a public forum, as that would not be appropriate. It becomes an exercise in “yes but that case is x, we are y” and we really do not have the bandwidth to deal with all of these conversations.

There are other APIs beyond what I described as “standard” - by which I mean the legacy / sometimes called “public” API endpoints that have existed across life of the service since ~2006 - eg Ads API which requires partner whitelistingand use case review; Gnip Enterprise data APIs that are commercial and also require use case vetting; plus, we have announced plans to introduce additional new tiered access APIs over the coming months.

Whether or not any developer has access to these, or has paid for additional data is not in any way relevant to our policy enforcement. Violations will ultimately be dealt with in order to protect the platform (stability / prevent the return of the “Fail Whale”) and MUCH more importantly, our users.

Our goal with the API platform unification announcement in April, and looking ahead, is to make these categories and tiers of access much more transparent - but our policies do, and will, remain consistent across the surface of the platform.

I (and we) genuinely recognise that you as a developer have engaged constructively with our team over the past months, and also acknowledge that you must look around at the “competitive” field and ask questions - implied above - that I understand. My responses here are NOT directed at you or at your app and I thank you for wanting to build stuff with the Twitter developer platform! I just want to ensure that our position on these use cases and policies is very very clear (it has been in writing, if not always in policy, enforcement, or in making sure that developers with little time to pay attention, understood the fundamentals).

Thank you.


#5