Twitter Updates ToS

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

Privacy

Your Rights

Restrictions on Content and Use of the Services

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.

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