Twitter changes Developer Rules to crack down on Bots

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Twitter has announced changes to its API that will massively reduce the impact of services that allow links and content to be shared across multiple accounts, i.e. the software that powers Twitter bots.

This should bring an end to services that let those controlling large numbers of accounts to batch tweet, follow users, retweet or like tweets.

Twitter will continue to allow content to be posted to accounts using software, for example, weather alerts, RSS feed updates and more, but they will now be limited to a single account going forward.

Yoel Roth, who heads up API policy and product trust explained,

“These changes are an important step in ensuring we stay ahead of malicious activity targeting the crucial conversations taking place on Twitter — including elections in the United States and around the world,” 

There is a small caveat for public service-related information.

“As a sole exception to this rule, applications that broadcast or share weather, emergency, or other public service announcements of broad community interest (for example, earthquake or tsunami alerts) are permitted to post this content across multiple accounts who have authorized an app,” Roth wrote.

In January, Twitter announced that as part of our Information Quality efforts we would be making changes to TweetDeck and the Twitter API to limit the ability of users to perform coordinated actions across multiple accounts. These changes were an important step in ensuring the company stay ahead of malicious activity targeting the crucial conversations taking place on Twitter — including elections in the United States and around the world.

For anyone who has been at the receiving end of bots — whether it be spam or more serious incidents such as harassment — Twitter’s move to restrict what is possible is long overdue. App developers have until March 23 of this year to make the necessary changes to comply with this new policy.

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