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Twitter Updates Tos

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Adrian Roselli

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User since: 14 Dec 1998

Articles written: 85

On Thursday Twitter updated its Terms of Service. Much has already been said about how Twitter has confirmed that you as the author own your own tweets, but I was more taken with how Twitter made the new Terms easier to read for those of us who haven't gotten a law degree. Twitter has inserted "tips" in key areas of their Terms to state their intent in plain English. Here are the tips, culled from their Terms by section:

Basic Terms

  • What you say on Twitter may be viewed all around the world instantly. You are what you Tweet!
  • [On advertising:] We're leaving the door open for exploration in this area but we don't have anything to announce.


  • You can opt-out of most communications from Twitter including our newsletter, new follower emails, etc. Please see the Notices tab of Settings for more.

Your Rights

  • This license is you authorizing us to make your Tweets available to the rest of the world and to let others do the same. But what’s yours is yours – you own your content.
  • Twitter has an evolving set of rules for how API developers can interact with your content. These rules exist to enable an open ecosystem with your rights in mind.

Restrictions on Content and Use of the Services

  • Twitter does not disclose personally identifying information to third parties except in accordance with our Privacy Policy.
  • We encourage and permit broad re-use of Content. The Twitter API exists to enable this.

Twitter also links off to its Impersonation Policy, its Trademark Policy and its account suspension information page.

Mashable posted an article yesterday distilling many of these rules down in "10 People You Won't See on Twitter Anymore." The ten they've identified:

  1. The Impersonator: using a celebrity or brand name (this led to Twitter's Verified Accounts service).
  2. The Bot: tools that auto-tweet or re-tweet. This could be an issue for organizations like Ride for Roswell, that uses its @RideForRoswell account to push tweets about the event at pre-scheduled times. There are many accounts that may now fall under suspicion when it may not be warranted (like @cr_wookie, which is too fun to kill).
  3. The Naked Chick: profile photos and/or backgrounds that are clearly pr0n.
  4. The Serial Abuser: multiple accounts, constant follow/unfollow behavior, lots of @replies (unsolicited or duplicates) are some of the behaviors that will trigger this.
  5. The Squatter: think domain name squatters and you get the gist.
  6. The Slimy Salesman: a little less specific, but as users we know them when we see them. Twitter says aggressive tactics and follower churn will get you flagged.
  7. The Hashtag Spammer: using a hashtag to ride the wave of a trending topic when your post has nothing to do with it.
  8. The Plagiarizer: retweeting sans attribution. Use your RTs people!
  9. The Über Oversharer or Bully: Twitter bans direct threats of violence. I'm pretty confident that they mean real life violence.
  10. The Faker: If you try to integrate the Twitter Verified Account badge into your profile photo or background, you're out.

The Point?

Twitter is doing two key things here: 1. Giving subscribers confidence that they understand copyright and fair use concerns (especially after the Facebook fracas) and 2. demonstrating that they are reacting to spammers. So far reaction has been positive for both, but I'm particularly curious to see how Twitter can keep on top of all the spammage when they don't have an army of staff to monitor the service. In Internet time, we should know in a few weeks.

A founder of, Adrian Roselli (aardvark) is the Senior Usability Engineer at Algonquin Studios, located in Buffalo, New York.

Adrian has years of experience in graphic design, web design and multimedia design, as well as extensive experience in internet commerce and interface design and usability. He has been developing for the World Wide Web since its inception, and working the design field since 1993. Adrian is a founding member, board member, and writer to In addition, Adrian sits on the Digital Media Advisory Committee for a local SUNY college and a local private college, as well as the board for a local charter school.

You can see his brand-spanking-new blog at as well as his new web site to promote his writing and speaking at

Adrian authored the usability case study for in Usability: The Site Speaks for Itself, published by glasshaus. He has written three chapters for the book Professional Web Graphics for Non Designers, also published by glasshaus. Adrian also managed to get a couple chapters written (and published) for The Web Professional's Handbook before glasshaus went under. They were really quite good. You should have bought more of the books.

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