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Twitter To Block Third-Party Paid Tweets

Soulskill posted more than 3 years ago | from the cutting-spam-and-competition dept.

Advertising 83

tekgoblin writes "Today Twitter announced on its blog an upcoming change to its Terms of Service. The change will not allow anyone to promote paid tweets through the Twitter API. Twitter had announced previously that it will be releasing a 'Promoted Tweets' platform for advertisers that will be non-intrusive and will always be relevant to the Twitter timeline. This action taken by Twitter could be a hard hit for small publishers that relied on the paid tweets that will be blocked shortly. Depending on how expensive the Twitter Promoted Tweets will be, this will show us whether or not Promoted Tweets will be good for the little guy."

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83 comments

Violation of free speech! (4, Funny)

newdsfornerds (899401) | more than 3 years ago | (#32326534)

Unconstitutional!
LUL

Re:Violation of free speech! (2, Informative)

emurphy42 (631808) | more than 3 years ago | (#32326634)

Are you trolling? Twitter is not the government.

Re:Violation of free speech! (1, Informative)

newdsfornerds (899401) | more than 3 years ago | (#32326880)

The LUL was supposed to alert the reader to my intent. I was joking.

Re:Violation of free speech! (1, Funny)

FuckingNickName (1362625) | more than 3 years ago | (#32327004)

This post is to alert you to /.'s judgement.

You're not funny.

Re:Violation of free speech! (1)

newdsfornerds (899401) | more than 3 years ago | (#32327104)

I never met an official /. representitive before. The Supreme Court's recent ruling on campaign contributions ain't funny either.

Re:Violation of free speech! (1)

FuckingNickName (1362625) | more than 3 years ago | (#32327186)

Think of it like being arrested for kiddy-fiddling: you're automatically guilty until enough people/coins speak up to prove your innocence.

Re:Violation of free speech! (1)

FatdogHaiku (978357) | more than 3 years ago | (#32327242)

...Twitter is not the government.

Are you sure? Sometimes it seems like the ratio of twits is quite high...

Re:Violation of free speech! (2, Informative)

WrongSizeGlass (838941) | more than 3 years ago | (#32326982)

Troll?? With LUL? Some moderators need to learn this new "internets speak" or find a link to acronymfinder.com [acronymfinder.com] .

Re:Violation of free speech! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32327858)

We're trying to avoid the 4chan end of netspeak, it's rather far from the high quality discourse you see on Twitter.

They certainly have the right... (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32326660)

... to profit from their self-destruction and not share it with others. The only reason why one might consider this a strange move is that Twitter is the epitome of superficial image cultivation, so it seems natural for its users to see it as an advertising channel.

This is our turf... (4, Funny)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 3 years ago | (#32326664)

And here, the competition sleeps with the failwhale.

Re:This is our turf... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32326822)

So you're saying the competition comes back repeatedly and will never, ever go away or die?

I don't know why (1)

oldhack (1037484) | more than 3 years ago | (#32326684)

But the whole thing disgusts me.

Re:I don't know why (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32326952)

I don't know why, either, but that's because I don't really understand it. I even skimmed the parts of the Twitter post, and still don't get it because it uses too much new age business gobbledygook terminology - e.g.,

It is critical that the core experience of real-time introductions and information is protected for the user and with an eye toward long-term success for all advertisers, users and the Twitter ecosystem. For this reason, aside from Promoted Tweets, we will not allow any third party to inject paid tweets into a timeline on any service that leverages the Twitter API.

Could somebody describe the situation in terms that me, a simple software engineer, understands? What constitutes a paid tweet, and how does it function -- are they usually automated, based on subscriber count, etc.? What the fuck is the twitter timeline? I'm assuming by ecosystem, they mean their servers and network connections, but someone correct me if I got my hippie==>legitimate terminology translation wrong.

Re:I don't know why (1)

History's Coming To (1059484) | more than 3 years ago | (#32327180)

If I read it right they're banning all commercial tweets except those going directly via twitter's in-house advertisers scheme. The adverts produced will be dropped into (I'm guessing at an example) an ongoing conversation using keyword spotting.

You're right though, doubledoubletwaddlespeak left right and centre.

Re:I don't know why (3, Insightful)

cgenman (325138) | more than 3 years ago | (#32327710)

Some twitter viewing applications slide ads into people's twitter streams. Now that Twitter is introducing an official paid advertising service that slides ads into people's twitter streams, they want control over that revenue stream.

All of the incomprehensible corporate speak is smoke-and-mirrors. Sadly, it will be smoke and mirrors that lots of people will fall for. I've shown junk like this to rather intelligent friends, who then nodded and said "that makes sense." The fact that they actually agreed with it was only slightly less shocking than the fact that they survived the experience without their BS detectors exploding.

Re:I don't know why (2, Insightful)

Peach Rings (1782482) | more than 3 years ago | (#32327800)

Some twitter viewing applications slide ads into people's twitter streams.

And anyone uses them?

Re:I don't know why (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#32333576)

Not many. They were more common in the past, before a few main apps came do dominate the landscape, which were then put out for free by twitter. And those that remain still have the option of banner ads and other types of advertising revenue.

While it won't inconvenience a lot of developers, it would be nice if the twitter people didn't try to BS around their reasoning.

Re:I don't know why (2, Insightful)

Kozar_The_Malignant (738483) | more than 3 years ago | (#32328438)

>It is critical that the core experience of real-time introductions and information is protected for the user and with an eye toward long-term success for all advertisers, users and the Twitter ecosystem. For this reason, aside from Promoted Tweets, we will not allow any third party to inject paid tweets into a timeline on any service that leverages the Twitter API.

In terms that a software engineer can understand, it means that Twitter has hired Dogbert Consulting.

Re:I don't know why (2, Informative)

mysidia (191772) | more than 3 years ago | (#32329200)

Handy Translation guide:

critical to the core experience = critical to our pocketbooks
real-time introductions and information protected for the user = Marketing content limited to what we are paid for, for our monetary benefit
long-term success for all advertisers = Advertisers that pay us are the only ones whose ads show up
Twitter Ecosystem = The users who visit the site and click on our ads
inject paid tweets = Ads introduced by third party software makers / web sites syndicating tweets, by displaying on the same page as the tweets.
timeline = Twitter's facility for displaying multiple tweets about a subject or from a person, over a period of time
Twitter API = An interface to their proprietary system provided for third-party access, to display and send tweets

Re:I don't know why (1)

Orbijx (1208864) | more than 3 years ago | (#32349136)

Short and curlies translation of the newspeak for the rest of us:

If you're an advertiser, pay us to use our service so that you can use our users as your advertising mouthpiece. In the end, you're probably going to get paid by people buying your crap, so we want our share up front.

If you're a user, you can manually type in an ad for something if you want. We can't tell you what not to type, as long as it stays within a reasonable guideline (don't talk about diddling your granddaughter, old man). You just can't let an advertiser insert crap into your tweets through an automated/scripted method.

To touch base on the other questions, AC:
'paid tweet' is where a user goes to a service that offers to give them money in exchange for letting that service post an advertisement of some sort in their timeline (getting to that in a moment).
If you remember your blogging history, about 4 years ago, there was a row with paid blogging posts. ie: company pays a person after thirty days for posting an advertisement in their weblog. The biggest name in that deal at the time was PayPerPost*.
The thing was, PayPerPost blog posts were manually entered.
The paid tweets mentioned are usually automated (user connects to advertiser via OAuth service and gives permission for that service to write to their timeline), and either selected at random, or by fitting a demographic such as number of followers, location, number of tweets per week, how often you're blocked according to a 3rd party service such as TwitBlock...

'timeline' is easily thought of as a history of posts. To corrolate this to familiar sources, Slashdot's homepage can be thought of as a timeline.

'ecosystem' is just a fancy way of saying 'our service'.

(* Note: I once was a PayPerPost Postie, and have done the sponsored blogging bit. It paid rather well (read: over $1200 in a year just posting odd posts here and there) then.)

Twitter wants to charge the advertisers (2, Insightful)

kelanden (1680090) | more than 3 years ago | (#32326692)

Of course Twitter isn't going to allow advertisers to use their API for free. They will muzzle any attempts to do so in the name of preventing spam, then turn around and charge them for the privilege.

Re:Twitter wants to charge the advertisers (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32326756)

Of course Twitter isn't going to allow advertisers to use their API for free. They will muzzle any attempts to do so in the name of preventing spam, then turn around and charge them for the privilege.

They have to monetize their service somehow. This seems perfectly logical and reasonable to me.*

*I don't use twitter, I feel my stance is unbiased.

Re:Twitter wants to charge the advertisers (2, Insightful)

kelanden (1680090) | more than 3 years ago | (#32326876)

They have to monetize their service somehow. This seems perfectly logical and reasonable to me.

Certainly no disagreement here. I just find it a bit irksome that Twitter is glossing over this move with platitudes about preserving the relevance of their service and fostering "innovation" when it's obvious to anyone that they're just acting to protect their business model.

Small publishers (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32326750)

The little guys keep needlessly attaching themselves to proprietary enterprises. Then they complain that things don't go their way. You don't expect sympathy, do you? Especially considering that you're talking about marketers...

Re:Small publishers (2, Interesting)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 3 years ago | (#32326968)

Well, marketers deserve neither pity nor mercy, nor acceptance in civilized company. However, that doesn't really change the (potentially invidious) little business cycle of our time:

Thanks to network effects, the bigger the player the more valuable the property(architecturally, making your own Twitter, with blackjack, and hookers, and slightly more characters per message would be trivial. Getting anybody to care would be an uphill slog. Same goes for something like Facebook.) Thanks to the ever more nuanced access control, cryptographic restriction, and analytics schemes available, the incumbent is in an excellent position to extract rents. Rent-seeking is generally a bad thing for everyone who isn't the rentier.

Now, I'm hard-pressed to shed a tear for the poor would-be twit-marketing millionaires who will be sucked dry by this; but the strong incentives to build structures from which rents can easily be extracted has its downsides. On the services side, outfits strive for lock-in; both in data portability issues, and in not integrating well with third parties, reducing effective customer choice. On the hardware side, we see the dangerous trend toward the manufacturer retaining cryptographic control over the device in perpetuity, and extracting fees for the privilege of doing various things(like selling software for the platform, or being able to play multiplayer games on your own hardware, with your own internet connection, that were once simply part of owning a computer).

The marketers might be the first to bleed(and they will, given their professional specialization in noise-making, certainly be the loudest); but they will not be the last.

Re:Small publishers (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32327730)

Getting anybody to care would be an uphill slog.

Twitter did it. Quit whining.

Re:Small publishers (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32327784)

Thanks to network effects, the bigger the player the more valuable the property(architecturally, making your own Twitter, with blackjack, and hookers, and slightly more characters per message would be trivial. Getting anybody to care would be an uphill slog. Same goes for something like Facebook.)

And yet, just a few years ago they were insignificant gnats. Why is anyone going to use Facebook when MySpace is still around? Why is anyone going to use Twitter? The answers to those questions would have been a helpless shrug, followed by a very reasonable but nevertheless incorrect, "probably no one ever will."

And nothing of value was lost (5, Insightful)

ShaunC (203807) | more than 3 years ago | (#32326846)

This action taken by Twitter could be a hard hit for small publishers that relied on the paid tweets

If you "rely" on "paid tweets," go fuck yourself and find an actual business model. Seriously.

Re:And nothing of value was lost (4, Insightful)

Bakkster (1529253) | more than 3 years ago | (#32326970)

If your business model is entirely dependant upon another company's service (Twitter, Facebook, Paypal, eBay, etc), then you have no guarantee that your business model will exist tomorrow. Not the best way to run a business.

Re:And nothing of value was lost (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32327348)

Zynga would dispute that. They can shut up shop right now and the owners can walk away with hundreds of millions dollars in their pockets. Not bad for a few crap games that relied on social networking sites. They've made themselves a lot of money, which was their aim. Company longevity was never a concern.

Re:And nothing of value was lost (1)

ceejayoz (567949) | more than 3 years ago | (#32328134)

Plus, it's not as if the Facebook side of things is all that hard to replace now that they're huge. Folks would likely follow Zynga off-site onto a new platform.

Re:And nothing of value was lost (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32328738)

Zynga hooks itself into Facebook in clever, evil ways, but the bulk of their code is absolutely not Facebook-dependent. They could switch to an independent site that links up to various networks without much effort, especially now that they've established a name for themselves.

For example, they and others have a crapload of awful, awful iPhone games that use similar evil tactics with no connection to Facebook at all.

Re:And nothing of value was lost (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32327578)

*cough*Amazon*cough*

Re:And nothing of value was lost (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32327670)

If your business model is entirely dependant upon another company's service

Hmm, one could argue that most IT shops depend on the services of microsoft, Intel, not to mention the local power service. And where would we be without the services of the coca cola company?

Your viewpoint of a business model being independent of others is much too simplistic.

Re:And nothing of value was lost (1)

Pollardito (781263) | more than 3 years ago | (#32328054)

someone needs to tell that to Netflix who's rolling out a new backend powered by Amazon's AWS [hackingnetflix.com]

Re:And nothing of value was lost (1)

Bakkster (1529253) | more than 3 years ago | (#32329392)

The fact that Netflix has done just fine so far shows that they could continue just fine if Amazon were to fold or shutter this service. Similarly, they could change payment processors or shipping providers if needed and continue to provide nearly identical services. Heck, they can even roll their own software or hosting services due to their size.

However, if you are a 'Twitter ad agency', then you're boned when Twitter changes the rules to push you out. One should at least be a 'social-networks ad agency', which while still BS, can spread the risk and not be beholden to a single corporation. This would be the equivalent of being a Netflix for Disney movies only, where if Disney brings the axe down you've lost ALL of your revenue.

Re:And nothing of value was lost (1)

VGPowerlord (621254) | more than 3 years ago | (#32328834)

You missed "iPhone" (or more specifically the App Store) in that list.

Re:And nothing of value was lost (1)

Bakkster (1529253) | more than 2 years ago | (#32334610)

Yeah, that's actually a pretty good example. Of course, it's also mitigated somewhat because the developer could switch to Android or Blackberry.

Re:And nothing of value was lost (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#32340110)

You mean like how we software devs rely on hardware manufs?

Yeah, your broad sentiment should likely be far more nuanced, but good try.

Re:And nothing of value was lost (1)

MMInterface (1039102) | more than 3 years ago | (#32329440)

go fuck yourself and find an actual business model.

So a paid tweet is what I thought it was. Thanks for clearing that up.

"We don't seek to control what users tweet." (4, Informative)

Scrameustache (459504) | more than 3 years ago | (#32326854)

In order to continue to provide clarity, our guiding principles include:
1. We don't seek to control what users tweet. And users own their own tweets.

So users are still free to tweet "Blue Sun makes the BEST saddles in the verse! #blueSun #spaceHorse" and receive payment from Blue Sun, but apps can't display ads in the feed that aren't coming from twitter?

Meh, fine by me.

Re:"We don't seek to control what users tweet." (1)

byronblue (855499) | more than 3 years ago | (#32327002)

I don't think that what it says at all. "Through the Twitter API" means you can't post promoted tweets using their public API, you could still build an app that displays tweets and server ads within the app.

Re:"We don't seek to control what users tweet." (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32329746)

I think what it means is that you can build an app that displays tweets and your ads, but you can't build an app that uses the 32 characters left over in a user's tweet to display "This message brought to you by C"

Huh? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32326942)

Allow me to say it.

HUH?

That's a whole lot of stupid shit the twits put up with.

deja vu all over again (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32326972)

in 2000/2001 wise man once say "web company make no money is web company that go bye bye"

that / which / that / which (0, Troll)

FuckingNickName (1362625) | more than 3 years ago | (#32326986)

1. "That" and "which" are not interchangeable. Stop it.

2. "Twitter" and "worthwhile intelligent discourse" are not interchangeable. Stop it.

Re:that / which / that / which (2, Funny)

natehoy (1608657) | more than 3 years ago | (#32327138)

"That" and "which" are not interchangeable.

Agreed, but the summary could have also used parenthesis to denote precedence.

((This action taken by Twitter could be a hard hit for small publishers) that relied on the paid tweets) that will be blocked shortly.

OR a complete rewrite to eliminate passive voice.

"This will hurt spammers."

Pooping (4, Funny)

Hognoxious (631665) | more than 3 years ago | (#32327068)

Pooping. Poop is coming out now.

This tweet brought to you by Ex-Lax. Helping you to "go", when the going gets tough.

Re:Pooping (0, Offtopic)

natehoy (1608657) | more than 3 years ago | (#32327152)

This tweet brought to you by Ex-Lax. Strong enough to break up a Fail Whale. Gentle on your stomach.

WTF is a "3rd Party Paid Tweet" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32327116)

And who the hell cares? Slashderrr needs to give up on reporting this shite. This used to be a place for "news for nerds". Nowadays, all the science & technology posts barely make it to the front page. Instead we're greeted with this: "Noise for Nerds". I don't need to know every time some monkey at MyFaceTwit changes their underwear.

Wait, what? (1)

thePowerOfGrayskull (905905) | more than 3 years ago | (#32327518)

This action taken by Twitter could be a hard hit for small publishers that relied on the paid tweets that will be blocked shortl

By "publisher" you mean "advertising middle-man"? Or maybe "Another business whose sole revenue relies on being the third or fourth party in an advertising imprint?" Cry me a river. Alternatively-- work on a real business plan, selling actual service of value, and see how that works instead.

Re:Wait, what? (1)

wmbetts (1306001) | more than 3 years ago | (#32328730)

I think they mean small publishers as in companies that have twitter accounts for their companies that tweet about coupons, deals, etc. I might be totally wrong though as I don't use twitter.

What is a "paid Tweet"? (4, Insightful)

TheSync (5291) | more than 3 years ago | (#32327562)

So what is a "paid Tweet"?

If Barack Obama tweets about politics, and he is paid to be the President of the USA, is that a "paid tweet"?

Re:What is a "paid Tweet"? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32328348)

You're being purposely obtuse, try to actually think of what a reasonable thing could mean. In this case, it's a tweet that you are paying someone to write. Is barack obama being _paid to tweet?_ NO. So it's not a paid tweet.

Re:What is a "paid Tweet"? (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 2 years ago | (#32332462)

You're being purposely obtuse, try to actually think of what a reasonable thing could mean. In this case, it's a tweet that you are paying someone to write. Is barack obama being _paid to tweet?_ NO. So it's not a paid tweet.

He's on the clock at all times, so yes, it's a paid tweet by that standard.

Re:What is a "paid Tweet"? (2, Insightful)

gzearfoss (829360) | more than 3 years ago | (#32329144)

Other 'flavors' of paid Tweets could include:
  - A celebrity that hires a publicity company to manage their Twitter feed.
  - A company that uses a Twitter feed to announce new products, contests, feedback.
  - A famous Twitterer who gets a kickback for mentioning a specific product
  - A person who really likes a specific brand of cookie / restaurant / etc

Do they have a plan to separate out that fourth person from the previous three?

advertising tweets? (1)

Endophage (1685212) | more than 3 years ago | (#32329394)

Don't know exactly how they are going to do these "Promoted Tweets" but if advertising tweets start appearing in my feed I'll be leaving twitter...

Re:advertising tweets? (1)

dangitman (862676) | more than 3 years ago | (#32329950)

but if advertising tweets start appearing in my feed I'll be leaving twitter...

That's rational, but what I don't understand is why anyone would begin using Twitter in the first place.

Re:advertising tweets? (1)

DrGamez (1134281) | more than 3 years ago | (#32331388)

Anyone who hasn't left (or never started to use) Twitter deserves to have ads thrown in their face. For a vast majority of people anything you could say in a tweet wouldn't be missed.

Re:advertising tweets? (1)

IBBoard (1128019) | more than 2 years ago | (#32333316)

It isn't in the feeds yet, just at the top of the search results. They're supposed to be relevant, but some of my programming searches get Starbucks and Virgin Airlines promo-tweets. In the grand scheme of things it is small peanuts compared to a) Google Ads on Google searches and b) big companies that slap large Flash adverts and more all over their articles/"blogs" while splitting the article into multiple pages for more ad views.

Re:advertising tweets? (1)

Endophage (1685212) | more than 3 years ago | (#32360758)

Hmmm, well Starbucks is relevant to programming. Don't all programmers need vast quantities of caffeine? Maybe that's just me and my addiction...

I agree it's not as bad as flash ads all over blogs as long as it stays in search results but Google Ads on searches don't really bother me. Maybe you see something different to me but I only get ads in the form of paid links on the far right of the search results.

Fine by me (1)

istartedi (132515) | more than 3 years ago | (#32330282)

Almost all the people I follow are "real people" and not organizations. There is one Si Valley VC incubator I follow that's sort of interesting; but I only started following them recently. I'm not commercial so I don't care. If people who WANT to get spammed help support Twitter, fine by me. I've found Twitter to be the "I don't have to deal with Farmville invites, or drunk pictures" version of Facebook. If they were to clutter their UI, that would kill them for me. This won't.

Re:Fine by me (1)

beakerMeep (716990) | more than 3 years ago | (#32330638)

It's really hard to resist commenting on your sig. Tell me it's a collection of flamebait for pendants! Irregardless, I just cant take it!

Re:Fine by me (1)

mysidia (191772) | more than 3 years ago | (#32331530)

They are not regulating what tweets other people can send by this. They are regulating tools using the twitter API that display tweets. Such as a Twitter iPhone client (for example), that allows you to search for tweets, without using the website.

The new rule means that if the client uses the Twitter API, they cannot inject paid Tweets into the Tweet stream that they display.

These "paid tweets" are essentially ads created locally by the client and made to look like real Tweets from someone else.

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