I'm encouraged to know that someone from Twitter is reading the posts
on this group. Perhaps this post will come to the attention of
someone in Twitter who will start a discussion with their legal
When I signed up for Twitter I read the TOS presented carefully
(sorry, I used to be a practicing lawyer, so I really DO read the fine
print before I sign). I got excited about the power of communicating
with potentially large groups of people on Twitter, and decided I
would try to get a million followers in a single month, using nothing
but free tools. My plan was to create 1,000 accounts and get 1,000
followers on each account. My self-imposed limitation was that I
could not follow the same person on more than one account.
Prior to launching this admittedly crazy scheme, I re-read the TOS
carefully. They contained no restriction about multiple accounts, no
restriction about using the same identity on multiple accounts, and no
restriction on trying to get followers by following others.
To my great surprise, the accounts I began creating in preparation for
this challenge started getting shut down. In the email sent by
Twitter, reference was made to a TOS that appears on Twitter's Help
page, BUT IS NOT THE SAME AS THE TOS DISPLAYED WHEN SIGNING UP FOR A
I carefully read the "hidden" TOS and began conforming to it to the
best of my ability.
Further shutdowns followed.
It became apparent to me:
1) That Twitter wants to control how its service is used. I have no
quarrel with Twitter here, as they are paying the freight -- I pay
nothing to use their software, their bandwidth or their servers.
2) Twitter is either poorly organized or downright deceitful (I assume
the former, not yet having irrefutable evidence to the contrary) in
posting one version of their TOS when someone signs up for a Twitter
account, but maintaining and enforcing a second version of the TOS.
(NOTE: they have now changed the TOS shown during sign up to refer to
the same rules showing on the Help page)
3) Twitter seems to want to shape the service as a tool for two-way
conversations between individuals or small groups. There is a large
market that sees value in using the service as a one-way broadcast
medium. Despite the limits Twitter is trying to put in place to shape
the service (the 2,000 follower limit, no duplicate tweets, etc. etc.)
Twitter is simultaneously encouraging SOME users of Twitter to develop
large followings, but automatically signing new twitter users up to
follow certain users with large followings, if the user simply hits
the big green NEXT button on each screen of the sign-up process.
4) Twitter does not place a high value on making sure that the rules
for using their service are clear and understandable and are
consistently applied to all users.
I respectfully submit that Twitter needs to provide common ground
rules applicable to all users. To actively work to restrict some
users from using the service as a broadcast medium, while at the same
time actively encouraging the use of the service as a broadcast medium
by other users (do you think anyone on twitter is having a two-way
conversation with 2,000,000 people?? of course not) is fundamentally
unfair. Is it in fact an illegal restraint of trade? Could Twitter
end up on the wrong end of a class action lawsuit that bankrupts it or
shuts it down before it even begins to monetize its service? I don't
know -- that is not my area of expertise.
What I DO know, is that my enthusiasm for using twitter for any
purpose has waned considerably since it became apparent that I cannot
predict with any certainty what their rules will be a week from now,
let alone a year from now. If enough other business owners feel like I
do, I think Twitter stands to severely limit its monetization