New Twitter Terms of Service - Bye Bye Bots?

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[caption id=”attachment_174” align=”alignright” width=”230” caption=”Sad Little Robot by Tom Lin :3= on Flickr”]Sad Little Robot by Tom Lin :3= on Flickr[/caption]

For those of you who don’t know, Twitter have recently announced new terms of service, mainly in an attempt to clear up stuff about who owns your tweets, but also to try and stop the flood of spam.

Now, as someone who hates spam on Twitter with a passion bordering on the psychotic, this is a welcome thing, spam is the scourge of Twitter and really needs a serious effort on the part of Twitter to stamp it out. However, there was on term that piqued my interest:

Some of the factors that we take into account when determining what conduct is considered to be spamming are… If your updates consist mainly of links, and not personal updates

Now, as someone who offers two bot-based services, Localgovweb (which retweets any tweet with the #localgovweb hashtag and has 430 followers) and Twitterplan (which sends direct messages to users about planning applications in their area), this made me think - are my accounts going to be suspended because they don’t offer personal updates?

It also calls into question many council Twitter accounts, which use the ‘fire and forget’ method of setting up Twitterfeed to tweet RSS news stories automatically - could they too be in breach of the TOS?

After thinking for a bit, I’d probably say no, automated accounts are only likely to be suspended if you indulge in other types of spammy behaviour (such as mass following, spam complaints, a large number of blocks etc), so as long as you aren’t doing this, you should be OK.

However, if you do run a bot, it might be worth reconsidering how you use Twitter - yes, automatic updates can be useful, but consider breaking up the automatic feeds with more personal updates - is there an event happening in your area that you might not have done a press release about? Or has someone tweeted something about the council that you’d like to respond to?

Peppering your updates with personal stuff of this nature makes the council seem more open and more approachable (if you need some inpiration, check out Walsall Council’s tweets). Behaving like a robot is just going to make your organisation seem like just that, a robot.