Twitter Adds New Terms of Service to Its Developer Platform – Stay N Alive

Twitter Adds New Terms of Service to Its Developer Platform

There has been a lot of news about Twitter’s new features, @anywhere, a coming social graph API, and their new developer website.  One thing that hasn’t been mentioned however is something that gives me great joy.  Every single developer that signs up for the platform is asked to agree to a very thorough, new, terms of service agreement.  This is a big step in the growth of the Twitter developer platform.

I’ve said over and over Twitter needs more transparency in its developer environment.  Helping the developers to know what they’re getting into, what the rules are, and how they are expected to behave not only gives Twitter some leverage to control their environment, but it also allows developers to build a business knowing what they’re getting into and if all the hard work they put into it is in vain.

I’m the Choir when it comes to preaching about features getting rendered useless due to Twitter changing their rules of the Twitter platform.  Only a few months ago, SocialToo was asked to remove our auto-unfollow service, and many other services, some which that was their only feature, were also asked to remove it.  The problem is I was never asked to sign an agreement, no agreements were presented to me, and very few rules were in place to designate what I could and couldn’t do.

It appears that at least for new developers, that is no longer the case.  Each and every application added to the Twitter platform via http://dev.twitter.com is required to agree to a very thorough agreement.  This means developers can now start knowing what they will be getting into.

Some elements developers are agreeing to:

  • Developers must adhere to rate limits
  • Developers can’t rent, sublicense or redistribute content from Twitter for development and use of other third party services without Twitter’s prior approval (this means Yahoo, for instance, had to have Twitter’s permission to redistribute the Twitter API into YQL for developers to use)
  • Developers can’t remove proprietary notices from Twitter content
  • Developers can’t use Twitter Marks (Trademark) in the names or logos of their products

The new agreement also asks developers to adhere to specific principles, primarily:

  • “Don’t surprise users”
  • “Don’t create or distribute spam”
  • “Respect User Privacy”
  • “Be a Good Partner to Twitter”

The terms are quite long, but have some important content in them for developers.  In my opinion this is actually a good thing for Twitter, and Twitter should really require even existing developers to agree and abide by these terms so everyone is familiar with them.  This is another great step in increased transparency for Twitter.

The full text of the new Developer agreement is below:

Developer Rules of the Road

Twitter maintains an open platform that supports the millions of people around the world who are sharing and discovering what’s happening now.  We want to empower our ecosystem partners to build valuable businesses around the information flowing through Twitter. At the same time, we aim to strike a balance between encouraging interesting development and protecting both Twitter’s and users’ rights.

So, we’ve come up with a set of Developer Rules of the Road (“Rules”) that apply to all developers and companies building products and services that interact with Twitter. If you’re a user of Twitter services, but not a developer, these rules will simply show what our partners are currently allowed to do with the content and information you share with Twitter.

The Rules will evolve along with our ecosystem as developers continue to innovate and find new, creative ways to use the Twitter API, so please check back periodically to see the most current version. If you are doing something prohibited by the Rules, talk to us about whether we should make a change or give you an exception.

I. API ACCESS

1. All use of the Twitter API and content, documentation, code, and related materials made available to you through the Twitter API (“Twitter Content”) in connection with the products or services you provide (your “Service”) is subject to and must comply with these Rules.

2.  You may use the Twitter API and Twitter Content to develop a Service to search, display, analyze, retrieve, view, and submit information to or on Twitter.  You may use the Twitter name or logos and other brand elements that Twitter makes available in order to identify the source of Twitter Content (“Twitter Marks”) subject to these Rules.

3.  Your use of the Twitter API and Twitter Content are subject to certain limitations on access, calls, and use of the Twitter API as set forth on dev.twitter.com or as otherwise provided to you by Twitter.  If Twitter reasonably believes that you have attempted to exceed or circumvent the rate limits, your ability to use the Twitter API and Twitter Content may be temporarily or permanently blocked.  Twitter may monitor your use of the Twitter API to improve the Twitter service and to ensure your compliance with these Rules.

4.  You will not attempt or encourage others to:

(a) sell, rent, lease, sublicense, redistribute, or syndicate the Twitter API or Twitter Content to any third party for such party to develop additional products or services without prior written approval from Twitter;

(b) remove or alter any proprietary notices or marks on the Twitter API or Twitter Content;

(c) use or access the Twitter API for purposes of monitoring the availability, performance, or functionality of any of Twitter’s products and services or for any other benchmarking or competitive purposes; or

(d) use Twitter Marks as part of the name of your company or Service, or in any product,  service, or logos created by you.  You may not use Twitter Marks in a manner that creates a sense of endorsement, sponsorship, or false association with Twitter.  All use of Twitter Marks, and all goodwill arising out of such use, will inure to Twitter’s benefit.

II. PRINCIPLES

We ask that you and your Service follow four principles:

Don’t surprise users

Don’t create or distribute spam

Respect user privacy

Be a good partner to Twitter

1. Don’t surprise users

(a) Maintain the integrity of Tweets. There is a lot of information packed into Tweets even though they are just 140 characters long (i.e., links to usernames, etc.).  The Display Guidelines (http://dev.twitter.com/pages/display_guidelines) provide guidance on how to best convey all the intended information in a Tweet. A few highlights:

o Don’t edit or revise user-generated content delivered through the API except as necessary due to technical limitations or requirements of any networks, devices, services, or media.

o Identify the user that authored or provided a Tweet unless you are either providing Tweets in an aggregate form, or need to make Tweets anonymous due to user privacy or security concerns.

(b) Get users’ permission before:

o sending Tweets or other messages on their behalf. A user authenticating through your application does not constitute consent to send a message.

o modifying their profile information or taking account actions (including following,  unfollowing, and blocking) on their behalf.

o adding hashtags or other content to a user’s Tweet. If your application allows users to send Tweets or other content to Twitter, show the user exactly what will be published.

(c) Your application should not:

o use business names and/or logos in a manner that can mislead, confuse, or deceive users. For more information on use of Twitter Marks, see our trademark usage guidelines (http://help.twitter.com/entries/77641)

o confuse or mislead users about the source or purpose of your application.

o use as its Application Website URL an unrelated URL, a site intended to entice or encourage users to violate our rules, a spam or malware site, or a shortened URL to mask the true destination.

o replicate, frame, or mirror the Twitter website or its design.

o impersonate or facilitate impersonation of others in a manner that can mislead, confuse, or deceive users.

(d) Respect the privacy and sharing settings of Twitter Content.  Promptly change your treatment of Twitter Content (for example, deletions, modifications, and sharing options) as changes are reported through the Twitter API.

2. Don’t create or distribute spam

(a) Spam can take many forms. Please abide by the spam rules (http://help.twitter.com/entries/18311#spam).

(b) If your application performs automatic actions (including Tweeting or other content updates), make sure you comply with the Automation Rules found at http://help.twitter.com/entries/76915.

(c) Do not mass-register applications. This includes:

o creating tokens/applications for the purpose of preventing others from using or selling those names, or other commercial use.

o using feeds of third-party content to update and maintain accounts under the names of those third parties.

o submitting multiple applications with the same function under different names for the purpose of name squatting.

(d) Do not facilitate or encourage the publishing of:

o links to malicious content

o pornographic or obscene images to user profile images and background images

3. Respect user privacy

(a) Clearly disclose what you are doing with information you collect from users.

(b) Clearly disclose when you are adding location information to a user’s Tweets.  Be clear about whether you are adding a place or specific coordinates. If your application allows users to Tweet with their location be sure that it complies with the best practices found at http://dev.twitter.com/pages/geo_guidelines

(c) Do not solicit another developer’s consumer keys or consumer secrets if they will be stored outside of that developer’s control. For example, online services that ask for these values in order to provide a “tweet-branding” service are not allowed.

(d) Do not facilitate or encourage the publishing of private or confidential information.

4. Be a good partner to Twitter

(a) If you display Tweets in an offline context, do so according to the guidelines found at http://help.twitter.com/entries/114233.

(b) Respect the features and functionality embedded with or included in Twitter Content or the Twitter API.  Do not attempt to interfere with, disrupt, or disable any Twitter API features.

(c) If your application causes or induces user accounts to violate the Twitter Rules (http://help.twitter.com/entries/18311) (for example, by retweeting spam updates, repeatedly posting duplicate links, etc.), it may be suspended or terminated. We’ve provided some guidance in our Abuse Prevention and Security help page at http://help.twitter.com/entries/79901.

(d) Respect the intellectual property rights of others.

(e) Do not use the Twitter Verified Account badge, Verified Account status, or any other enhanced user categorization on accounts other than those reported to you by Twitter through the API.

III. CONNECT WITH TWITTER GUIDELINES

The following guidelines apply if you use Connect with Twitter to integrate Twitter functionality into your Service.

1. Connect With Twitter

End users must be presented with the option to log into Twitter via OAuth protocol.  End users without a Twitter account should be given the opportunity to create a new Twitter account as provided by Twitter. You must display the Connect with Twitter option at least as prominently as the most prominent of any other third party social networking sign-up or sign-in marks and branding appearing on you Service.

2. General

(a) If you allow end users to create social updates from your own social service or a third party social networking, micro-blogging, or status update provider integrated into the your Service (“Update”), you must also display a prominent option to publish that content (or a link if the Update is not text or longer than 140 characters) to the Twitter service.

(b) If your service displays Updates commingled with Tweets, you must ensure that Tweets reference Twitter as the source.

3. Twitter Identity

Once an end user has authenticated via Connect with Twitter, you must clearly display the end user’s Twitter identity.  Twitter identity includes visible display of the end user’s avatar, Twitter user name, and a Twitter “t” mark.  Displays of the end user’s followers on the your Service must clearly show that the relationship is associated with the Twitter service.

IV. COMMERCIAL USE

1. Twitter reserves the right to serve advertising via its APIs.

2. Your advertisements cannot be false, misleading, fraudulent, or illegal.

3.  If you use or facilitate the use of affiliate links, you must comply with our Affiliate Rules (http://help.twitter.com/entries/76915#advertising)

4. You must get permission from the user that created the Tweet if you:

o want to user their Tweet on a commercial good or product (for example, using a Tweet on a t-shirt or a poster or making a book based on someone’s Tweets).

o create an advertisement that implies the sponsorship or endorsement on behalf of the user.

V.LEGAL TERMS

1.Termination.

You may terminate any license in these Rules at any time by ceasing your access to the Twitter API and use of any Twitter Content, and deleting all copies of the Twitter API and Twitter Content as described below.  Twitter may immediately suspend your access to the Twitter API or any Twitter Content (or if necessary, terminate this agreement with you) at any time, and without notice to you if you breach any term or condition in this agreement or otherwise engage in activities that Twitter reasonably determines are likely to cause liability to Twitter.  Twitter may also terminate any licenses hereunder for any reason with thirty (30) days notice (including by email to the address associated with your account) to you.  Twitter will not be liable for any costs, expenses, or damages as a result of its termination of this agreement.  Upon termination of this agreement, you will promptly cease accessing and using the Twitter API and Twitter Content and will delete all Twitter Content and any information derived therefrom and all copies and portions thereof, in all forms and types of media from your Service.  Sections 1(4) and V of these Rules will survive the termination of this agreement.

2.Confidentiality.

You may be given access to certain non-public information, software, and specifications relating to the Twitter API (“Confidential Information”), which is confidential and proprietary to Twitter.  You may use this Confidential Information only as necessary in exercising your rights granted in these Rules.  You may not disclose any of this Confidential Information to any third party without Twitter’s prior written consent.  You agree that you will protect this Confidential Information from unauthorized use, access, or disclosure in the same manner that you would use to protect your own confidential and proprietary information of a similar nature and in any event with no less than a reasonable degree of care.

3.Ownership; Feedback.

3.1 Twitter.  You expressly acknowledge that Twitter and its end users retain all worldwide right, title and interest in and to the Twitter Content, including all intellectual property rights therein.  You also acknowledge that as between you and Twitter, Twitter owns all right, title and interest in and to the Twitter API, Twitter Marks, and the Twitter service (and any derivative works or enhancements thereof), including but not limited to all intellectual property rights therein.  You agree not to do anything inconsistent with such ownership.  Any rights not expressly granted herein are withheld.  You agree that you will not challenge Twitter’s ownership of, the validity of any license to use, or otherwise copy or exploit the Twitter Marks during or after the termination of this agreement except as specifically authorized herein.  If you acquire any rights in the Twitter Marks or any confusingly similar marks, by operation of law or otherwise, you will, at no expense to Twitter, immediately assign such rights to Twitter.

3.2 You.  As between you and Twitter, you retain all worldwide right, title and interest in and to your Service, excluding the Twitter API, Twitter Marks, and the Twitter Service (and any derivative works or enhancements thereof), including but not limited to all intellectual property rights therein.  You may provide Twitter with comments concerning the Twitter Content or Twitter API or your evaluation and use thereof.  You agree that Twitter and its designees will be free to copy, modify, create derivative works, publicly display, disclose, distribute, license and sublicense, incorporate, and otherwise use the feedback, including derivative works thereto, for any and all commercial and non-commercial purposes with no obligation of any kind to you.

4.Updates.

Twitter may update or modify the Twitter API, Rules, and other terms and conditions, including the Display Guidelines, from time to time its sole discretion by posting the changes on this site or by otherwise notifying you (such notice may be via email).  You acknowledge that these updates and modifications may adversely affect how your Service accesses or communicates with the Twitter API.  You will have thirty (30) days from such notice to comply with any modifications.  If any change is unacceptable to you, your only recourse is to terminate this agreement by ceasing all use of the Twitter API and Twitter Content.  Your continued access or use of the Twitter API or any Twitter Content following the 30 day period will constitute binding acceptance of the change.

5.Representations and Warranties; Disclaimer.

5.1 Representations and Warranties.  You represent and warrant that:

(a) you have the necessary power and authority to enter into this agreement, and that the performance of your obligations will not constitute a breach or otherwise violate any other agreement or the rights of any third party arising therefrom;

(b) you will maintain throughout the term of this agreement all rights and licenses that are required with respect to your Service; and

(c) your Service and  its use, distribution, sale and license, including the use of any license hereunder, does and will continue to comply with all applicable foreign, federal, state, and local laws, rules, and regulations.

5.2 Disclaimer.   THE TWITTER CONTENT, TWITTER API, AND ANY OTHER TWITTER PRODUCTS AND SERVICES PROVIDED HEREUNDER ARE PROVIDED “AS IS” AND ON AN “AS-AVAILABLE” BASIS, WITHOUT WARRANTY OF ANY KIND.   TWITTER DISCLAIMS ALL WARRANTIES, WHETHER EXPRESS, IMPLIED, STATUTORY, OR OTHERWISE, INCLUDING WITHOUT LIMITATION WARRANTIES OF MERCHANTABILITY, NONINFRINGEMENT, FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE, AND ANY WARRANTIES OR CONDITIONS ARISING OUT OF COURSE OF DEALING OR USAGE OF TRADE.  TWITTER DOES NOT WARRANT THAT THE TWITTER CONTENT AND TWITTER API AND ANY OTHER TWITTER PRODUCTS AND SERVICES PROVIDED HEREUNDER WILL MEET ALL OF YOUR REQUIREMENTS OR THAT USE OF SUCH TWITTER CONTENT AND TWITTER API BE ERROR-FREE UNINTERRUPTED, VIRUS-FREE, OR SECURE.

6. Limitation of Liability.

IN NO EVENT WITH TWITTER BE LIABLE TO YOU FOR ANY SPECIAL, INCIDENTAL, EXEMPLARY, PUNITIVE OR CONSEQUENTIAL DAMAGES (INCLUDING LOSS OF USE, DATA, BUSINESS OR PROFITS) ARISING OUT OF OR IN CONNECTION WITH THIS AGREEMENT OR YOUR USE OF THE TWITTER API, TWITTER CONTENT, OR OTHER TWITTER PRODUCTS AND SERVICES WHETHER SUCH LIABILITY ARISES FROM ANY CLAIM BASED UPON CONTRACT, WARRANTY, TORT (INCLUDING NEGLIGENCE), STRICT LIABILITY OR OTHERWISE, AND WHETHER OR NOT YOU HAVE BEEN ADVISED OF THE POSSIBILITY OF SUCH LOSS OR DAMAGE.  THE FOREGOING LIMITATIONS WILL SURVIVE AND APPLY EVEN IF ANY LIMITED REMEDY SPECIFIED IN THIS AGREEMENT IS FOUND TO HAVE FAILED ITS ESSENTIAL PURPOSE.  IN ANY CASE, TWITTER’S AGGREGATE LIABILITY UNDER THIS AGREEMENT WILL NOT EXCEED THE GREATER OF ONE HUNDRED DOLLARS ($100) OR THE AGGREGATE FEES YOU PAID FOR ACCESS TO THE TWITTER API IN THE LAST YEAR.

7. Indemnification.

You will indemnify, defend, and hold Twitter, its subsidiaries, affiliates, officers, and employees, harmless from any and all claims, damages, losses, liabilities, actions, judgments, costs, and expenses (including reasonable attorneys’ fees) brought by a third party arising out of or in connection with: (a) any act or omission by you, in connection with your use of the Twitter Content, the Twitter API, or the Twitter Marks; (b) your use of the Twitter Content, the Twitter API, or the Twitter Marks other than as expressly allowed by this agreement; (c) your breach or alleged breach of any of the terms, restrictions, obligations or representations under this agreement; or (d) your Service.  You will assume control of the defense and settlement of any claim subject to indemnification by you.  Twitter may, however, at any time elect to take over control of the defense and settlement of any such claim.  In any event, you will not settle any such claim without Twitter’s prior written consent.

8. Miscellaneous.

These Rules constitute the entire agreement among the parties with respect to the subject matter and supersedes and merges all prior proposals, understandings and contemporaneous communications.  Any modification to the Rules by you must be in a writing signed by both you and Twitter.  You may not assign any of the rights or obligations granted hereunder, voluntarily or by operation of law (including without limitation in connection with a merger, acquisition, or sale of assets) except with the express written consent of Twitter, and any attempted assignment in violation of this paragraph is void.  This agreement does not create or imply any partnership, agency or joint venture.  This agreement will be governed by and construed in accordance with the laws of the State of California, without regard to or application of conflicts of law rules or principles.  All claims arising out of or relating to this agreement will be brought exclusively in the federal or state courts of San Francisco County, California, USA, and you consent to personal jurisdiction in those courts.  No waiver by Twitter of any covenant or right under this agreement will be effective unless memorialized in a writing duly authorized by Twitter.  If any part of this agreement is determined to be invalid or unenforceable by a court of competent jurisdiction, that provision will be enforced to the maximum extent permissible and the remaining provisions of this agreement will remain in full force and effect.

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