Friday Shame: Twitter tweaks its developer guidelines & launches its ad-targeting program

Image Credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/beaugiles/

This story is a part of our “Friday Shame” series, where we take a second look at the often bad news companies announce on Friday afternoons and other odd times. Check out other stories in the series here

While you were preparing your mind, spirit, and stomach for the rigors of the July 4th weekend, Twitter snuck in some revisions to its developer guidelines.

The most controversial change affects Twitter’s stance on programs that allow users to auto-follow their new followers. While Twitter has always frowned on auto-following, its developer policy now explicitly prohibits it. “You may not use or develop any service that allows for the following or unfollowing of user accounts in a bulk or automated manner,” Twitter says. (In a similar vein, Twitter has also officially banned “bulk” following, though that’s somewhat loosely defined.)

The company’s logic is that Twitter will be a better place if users sit down and consciously decide who to follow rather than have software do it for them, but there are more than a few Twitter users who disagree.

“The main goal behind these changes is to better clarify our guidelines for using our API and other platform tools, based on your feedback and comments,” Twitter developer advocate Sylvain Carle wrote in post published Wednesday at 8:30 PM ET.

Yes, Twitter wanted to clarify things so much that it announced the changes the evening before one of the biggest American holidays of the year.

Twitter also took the time on Wednesday to announce that it’s begun experimenting with its own ad-targeting program, which will allow it to display ads based on a user’s web activity. Clearly the company had a lot of important news that couldn’t wait until after the long weekend.


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