Twitter has announced new guidelines banning mass Tweets and engagement actions like Likes and Follows, in a bid to rid its platform of automation used for nefarious purposes, and bots that are up to no good.
Following the indictment of 13 people and three businesses for their role in the interference of the US elections, Twitter announced new measures to keep its platform safe and free from spam. One of the most common problems it noticed is the use of multiple automated accounts to “artificially amplify or inflate the prominence of certain Tweets.” This is obviously a prohibited practice on the platform, as automation should never be used to disseminate spam.
In January, the company announced that it would be making changes to its TweetDeck tool and the Twitter API, limiting the ability of users to coordinate actions across accounts. The changes were announced as part of its Information Quality efforts to ensure it stays “ahead of malicious activity targeting the crucial conversations taking place on Twitter — including elections in the United States and around the world.”
Now, Twitter is sharing further information about these changes and how developers should comply with them in their third-party apps.
- Third-party apps should not (and should not allow their users to) “simultaneously post identical or substantially similar content to multiple accounts.” For example, it should not allow a user to select multiple accounts to publish a Tweet. Similarly, applications that “coordinate activity across multiple accounts” to “post Tweets with a specific hashtag” are prohibited. This applies to all Tweets, whether published all-at-once, or scheduled.Twitter still allows one account to Retweet content from another, but – as Twitter notes – “this should only be done from a small number of distinct accounts that you directly control.” Thus, “bulk, aggressive, or very high-volume automated Retweeting is not permitted.” Twitter’s Automation Rules prohibit this, and any such action by be “subject to enforcement actions.”
- Third-party apps should not (and should not allow their users to) “simultaneously perform actions such as Likes, Retweets, or follows from multiple accounts.” For example, it should not allow a user to select a specific account to be followed by multiple accounts under his/her control.
Cross-posting outside information (like weather alerts or RSS feeds) is still allowed, but only to one account controlled by a user. Twitter explains that “applications that broadcast or share weather, emergency, or other public service announcements of broad community interest” – i.e. earthquake or tsunami alerts – are still permitted to post this content on multiple accounts.
As part of the above changes, Twitter is also making changes to TweetDeck’s multiple account functionality. Users on TweetDeck now won’t be able to choose multiple accounts to “perform an action such as Tweeting, Retweeting, liking, or following.”
Developers of third-party apps that include any of the above functionalities have to bring their apps into compliance with the policy by March 23, 2018. Enforcement action may result if they fail to do so, which may include “the suspension of associated applications and accounts.”
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