Developer guidelines updates


Today we are publishing some changes for our [node:110] and [node:142]. The main goal behind these changes is to better clarify our guidelines for using our API and other platform tools, based on your feedback and comments.

For example: we relaxed some display requirements around author’s name, timestamps and permalinks; we clarified that the “no commingling” term doesn’t apply to manually curated streams; and, we now require developers to disclose their privacy policies before people download, install or sign up for a service. We have also clarified some restrictions: hosting datasets of raw Tweets for download is prohibited, and automated following or bulk following is also prohibited.

We believe these changes will help provide a better experience for everyone using Twitter. Be sure to read the actual documents and use those for final reference.

  • [node:110]
  • [node:142]
  • Automation rules and best practices at

You can always find previous versions of our developer rules of the road and display requirements and review the differences between versions. We go the extra mile to clearly outline every change and make sure it’s easy to understand. That said, we realize these documents can seem a bit dense –– we’re always open to feedback, please chime in with comments or questions.

July 3, 2013


From the looks it seems Auto following people who follows you is now against twitter TOS? Or is it still in accordance with the TOS?


Auto-follow-back used to be specifically allowed, and now it’s unclear. Care to clarify? I’m already getting questions.


The operating word here is “aggressive” (as per

“Aggressive following is defined as indiscriminately following hundreds of accounts just to garner attention. However, following a few users if their accounts seem interesting is normal and is not considered aggressive.”


It is still unclear if auto follow back is permitted.
Let’s say I got 100 new followers today, can I use a service that will follow back all these new followers?


Hey Sylvain,

How can I apply for this issue, ?
We have a really aggressive case here.

Thank you


The wording is “automated and bulk” - I guess the confusion lies in a very loose definition.

I have many interests, so if I joined twitter today and found 200 interesting accounts around my work and personal life, I would currently (as I’m seeing on a number of threads online) be suspended.

Some are seeing suspensions for following as little as 40 accounts in one day and under 300 in total after having a Twitter profile for over a month. :slight_smile:


Does this will be true for account of Bot?
Or only a regular account?

Now, I’m making a Bot of Twitter.
Automatic follow So if a completely prohibited if,
It will also change the processing of the part.


We removed the clause permitting automated follow-back, as we would prefer that users manually review their new followers and then choose whether or not they would like to follow back individual accounts. We understand that some users feel pressured to follow back; however, if not all of the accounts which followed you contained content which interested you or were gaming the system for your attention, would you still want to follow them back if they weren’t actually interested in you or your content? Accounts which follow-back may quickly find their home-timeline useless due to too much noise if they didnt carefully pick and choose who to follow.

We still welcome services which perform analyses on recent followers and highlight those that may interest you, but only if these services only allow you to followback each account individually and manually.

Twitter Platform Operations


For people who use twitter for their brand, its important for them to treat all followers same, and i am pretty sure, none of those users read tweets. They have to followback all users, without picking one over the other.
I am against automation anyway, but auto followback people who follow you should not be treated like other automation. From the trend i concluded if you follow people its more engaging, people are more willing to give opinions. Moreover suppose you want to get feedbacks from users with protected accounts, if we don’t follow them they can never reply or give the feedback. So to circumvent this “twitter profile” should follow its protected user. But that will be biased.

My point is, not all people use twitter to read home timeline. Some use it for social engagement and may other ways i never thought.

I would really like to see an option, to follow people but not follow their tweets. A lot of times people follows people because they feel pressured. An option to turn off their tweets like you have for retweets with make twitter much more usable.



Dear @froginthevalley,

i have build a following app., a geo location based tweet explorer. we use twitter as our primary data source and trying to understand if we have broken any of the rules. i have already went through the rules doc several times and for me it looks like fine.

i have spent tons of time designing this website and re did a lot of UI to keep it inline with twitter display requirements. but i would like to know the take from twitter on the same. could you help me on this please.

Thank you,



If you could please file a ticket at by selecting “I have an API policy question not covered by these points,” and give us an explanation of your app, my team can evaluate it for compliance.

Thanks in advance,
Twitter Platform Operations


“My point is, not all people use twitter to read home timeline. Some use it for social engagement and may other ways i never thought.”

This is a great point and one that I think Twitter has consistently missed with all these changes to the rules. I don’t personally read my home timeline, I have tweetdeck to filter through it for interesting things. I want to follow as many (real) accounts as I can and sometimes drinking from the firehose is my choice.

It’s not up to Twitter to manage how I personally use Twitter.


You guys should outlaw auto DMs those are freakin annoying and are mostly SPAM. I don’t mind auto-following though as that’s harmless to me, plus I don’t use auto follow, so not a problem.


Auto DMs are not spam. Just unfollow if you don’t want to get one.
You control whom to follow. If you follow spam, you get spam.


Why punish social butterflies? Punish spammers. Social butterflies are the world’s connectors. They connect people. They are important in real life as they are in social media. They connect people that wouldn’t ordinarily connect.

I applaud your efforts in building such an amazing and engaging social network, please do not become another Facebook and start controlling the very same thing that makes us want to come back for more.

Aggressive Behaviour Policy Suggestion
Adopt a laissez-faire model and let users in the community define who the spammers are. I can’t imagine gmail suspending my account because I subscribed to too many rss alerts or deleting them. I receive plenty of google alerts/day, sometimes I choose to opt-out but that doesn’t mean gmail should suspend my email account because I signed up for too many “google alerts” or how many “alerts” I delete or unsubscribe to. The option should be ours to define who and how many people we want to follow or unfollow. Do we really need supervision or someone who will scorn us if we add too many people one day… How does that translate into a social network? Maybe so, if you drop the word social. If that is the case, then don’t allow new people to sign up. Close the doors and keep those inside, in and the outsiders out.

If removing spammers from the community is your concern, why not work with a model similar to craigslist - allow users to “mark for spam” or “identify the user as spam” but please do not ruin the twitter experience because of spammers and allow us to openly engage with one another as we like.

If it is one thing I have enjoyed the most about twitter is the ability to openly engage with individuals without any restrictions. Following back is at times a common “twitter courtesy” to engage a conversation further (enabling conversations via DM). I like to see twitter as a virtual social platform - and even in real life, some people are just much more social than others.

Please reconsider your recent policy changes and keep twitter as an open social community as possible. Allow members of our growing community to self-monitor and engage openly.


Just saw that auto follow-back is now not allowed on Twitter. But the auto-DM (SPAM-SPAM-SPAM) is still allowed?

Honestly, this policy seems…not well-thought out. It’s like the one thing that should have been limited is not and the thing that is easily monitored by people is compromised.

If people cannot think for themselves and watch their home stream and target their content to attract desirable followers, that is their problem. Why is Twitter making policy to the lowest common denominator?

I have loved Twitter, used it for a large part of my social strategy, and had looked forward to continuing. But as there are other services that allow connecting with exciting content, this policy change may lead me to use it less. You’ve created more “busy work” for busy people.



I agree with @tarametblog!!


I have to disagree that auto DM is spam. There is nothing wrong to welcome your new followers. It is your choice whom to follow. If you consider DM from that person as spam, why you followed him in a first place? And keep in mind you can always unfollow. I’m sure you using auto replies in your email when you away, how that is different? Are you consider your email auto reply as spam?

And again, the problem is whom you follow, and if you made your choice to follow that person, be ready to receive DMs from him.


You know, Twitter (and Facebook) are going to go the way of MySpace if they are not careful. The more rules and restrictions social networks put on their users, the more of an anti-customer perception they are creating. It seems that Twitter is suffering from the same identity crisis that many long lost great companies suffered from: The inability to recognize and accept what your users have turned the platform you provided into. Your users have turned Twitter into a web of microconnections. The original intent of letting your friends know what you are up to is long gone. People took your idea and said, hey, I can leverage that. For good or for bad, it’s not your baby anymore. It has grown up and has a mind of it’s own.

There are so many up-start social media companies just waiting in the wings for the majority of people to say, “hey, we’re getting a raw deal here” and bail to something new and better. And new and better is exactly what will always win out, because as these companies get big and bureaucratic, they forget what they are in it for in the first place.

Are we to believe that a paying advertiser that gets a thousand followers a day is going to have to hire temps to manually follow back all of their followers? Do you think that your big users with 6 and 7 figures of followers are going to be able to follow back the mountainous hoards of new followers every day? Automation was created specifically to address these needs, and too bad if there are some bad apples using it. Most people aren’t dumb and know Black Hat marketing when they see it and ignore it.

Which brings me to the question: why are you trying to save me from myself, anyway? If I decide that I want to auto-follow a spammer, that’s my business. I don’t have to pay attention to that person’s sales pitches. I can un-follow them if they are too annoying and fill up my feed with junk. Personally, I don’t even look at what the people I follow say. I’m an artist and I’m more interested in the fact that they look at what I say. And Auto-DM’s are NOT spam - I used to pay somebody to follow back and DM every new follower, now I use SocialOomph - - and pay a monthly fee to let it be automated along with sending a welcome message to new followers. I have paying marketing customers that expect me to provide this service and now I have to go back and tell them it can’t be automated anymore (the auto-following).

So once again, another great company will be squashed by a bunch of “dilberts”. Bad news for Twitter. Excellent news for their replacement.

JB of Jerry Boutot Music