On Wed, 12 Aug 2009 05:17:27 -0700
Dale Merritt <mogul...@gmail.com> wrote:

> What is Twitters real stance on auto following?  In there API they
> prohibit "mass following" so what does that mean exactly.  More than
> 1, 100?  In my app, I had planned on integrating some meaniful auto
> following

I'm sure that someone could clarify "stance" if you could clarify
"meaningful". :-)

I think what's missing from the API here isn't hard limits, but a
shared vocabulary for describing social design.

We have this in the API TOS:

     4. Do not create a bot to promote mass following. Twitter
        enables users to find and connect with people. Mass
        following does not help users find interesting connections.
        Applications found to be promoting valueless mass-following
        or following-ponzi schemes will be promptly blacklisted. So
        please, spend your time developing something that helps
        users find people with interesting connections.

It's clear to me that the intent of the rule is an appeal to social
design. "What is mass following?" is the wrong question. The right
questions would be "What are interesting connections?" and "How do I
help people find them?"

I'm writing a game application that might auto return follows because
it relies on DMs for a communication channel. I don't have any doubts
about where this app stands with this rule. Finding other people who
play the game definitely helps users find interesting connections.

Another app might autofollow those who post on certain topics and
retweet posts that are on-topic for the Bot, effectively amplifying
certain channels and making it easier to find posts and posters. I
think that this is likely an edge case. A bot that doesn't provide any
additional filtering or processing over a saved search doesn't really
serve any purpose other than promoting a mass following, while an
application that adds value to the data stream could develop an immense
following because it "helps users find people with interesting

Chris Babcock

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