dms – Stay N Alive

Twitter Announces Live Social Graph Streams

In a Keynote at Chirp by Ryan Sarver, Project Manager over the Twitter API, he announced a new, full API around live content streaming that just saved me thousands.  The new API enables a real-time layer around not just Tweets and search that they’ve enabled in the past, but now direct messages, follows, favorites, and retweets.  As users follow, direct message, or favorite, developers will now be able to pull these actions for each user in real time.

One of the biggest headaches of my own on SocialToo has been the need to constantly poll for new follows and unfollows.  Each request requires an entire snapshot of the user’s friends and followers, and with Twitter’s current structure, can take minutes up to even a half hour or more to pull an entire snapshot of a user’s list of friends.  This takes bandwidth, takes time, and costs money on both the developer’s servers and on Twitter’s end.

The new API will enable one request per follow, one request per DM, and the great thing about it is all of it happens as the user clicks “follow”, as the user sends the DM, and the User benefits from a real-time, live update on new follows and DMs on sites like  So, assuming developers are given access soon, you will soon be able to have real-time updates on new followers and unfollowers, as well as new, filtered DMs on sites like (if you haven’t signed up go sign up today!).

I’m excited for this new announcement, and it’s something I’ve been asking the Twitter API team for awhile now.  It’s good to see Twitter finally getting the capacity to work on these requests.  I hope to continue to see work on developers’ needs like this.

Please Do Twitter a Favor and Join SocialToo

Today we announced on the SocialToo blog that we’ve enabled our phishing protection for all 60,000+ SocialToo users (and many, many more to come). This project means a lot to me, as it means the more people that use it, the fewer phishing DMs will be received, links won’t be clicked, passwords won’t be shared, and accounts won’t be compromised. The more I can help prevent this from happening, I think the better for the web in general.

In total, SocialToo has blocked near 200,000 total spam DMs sent to our users, and over 25,000 of those were malicious, phishing, and trapped automatically by our filters. 5,000 of those were just since enabling it on all accounts. That’s 25,000 dms that could have been collecting your Twitter credentials, could have compromised your account, and could have spread further by compromising your account. This service is powerful.

The service gets enabled automatically for any user that just logs in with their Twitter credentials at Of course, I’d love it if you tried our other features, set up some filters, maybe tracked who followed you and stopped following you the previous day on Twitter, but more than anything I want you to help the web in general by eradicating these pesky dms! Each dm we detect gets deleted from your Twitter account, often before you can see it in your favorite Twitter client, doesn’t get sent in our DM e-mails (found on your Filters page), and a message is sent on your behalf to @spam also notifying Twitter of the compromised account.

Please, if you haven’t had reason to join SocialToo yet, now is the time. This is your opportunity to, just by logging in, help make Twitter a cleaner place. Be sure to check out Louis Gray’s experience with this service on his blog – I think he too has had similar experience in seeing the success of having this enabled.

Oh, and stay tuned, other than this and our new design launch, we’ve got some more really big news coming tomorrow that I think you’re going to really like.

Image courtesy

Oops, Twitter Does it Again

Oops I did it again - Britney SpearsI don’t think Twitter is listening. In fact, I remember a few of them mentioning they don’t read the news or blogs so that it doesn’t affect their work. Perhaps it’s about time they start. Today I blogged over on LouisGray about a cool new change to the e-mail notifications on Twitter where they now show a user’s profile image and follower/friend data along with the new follower e-mails they send to you. (and dang it – MG beat me to the news. He’s good!)

What is scary though is what actually happened behind the scenes in this change. Today Twitter, again without notice to developers, completely changed the format of both their new follower and DM e-mails from plain text, to HTML multi-part format, completely breaking any app that was relying on those formats to parse and process new follows or direct messages.

What’s funny is that the very apps I was saying Twitter was venturing into competing ground with, Topify, and Twimailer, are the very types of apps that would have been broken by this change. In addition, apps like Greg Lavallee’s addNetflix app are now broken because they were relying on the plain-text format of the new DM e-mails. In my previous post about Twitter doing this, Greg commented, stating, “When I first read this post last month I thought, “well, if you code your application well, it should take into account potential changes from Twitter.” I also thought that Twitter would warn us about bigger changes. Wrong on both counts.” Many apps are relying on these e-mails, some of them probably completely unaware their apps are broken at the moment.

This issue was brought up on the Twitter developers list this afternoon by TwitReport developer, “TjL” (“Can Twitter Please Pick a From, and Stick With It?”). Evidently the new format also broke the new follower statistics for his app, and has happened multiple times causing him to have to re-educate his users to re-do their filters every time. Matt Sanford, Twitter API Team member responded explaining,

“We had changed the from address to try and improve bounce reporting and prevent being marked as spam by major ISPs. When we added the HTML formatting we found that we needed a consistent address for the ‘always display images’ option in many clients so we changed things around again. Hopefully this will be the last change as it causes us a bunch of work as well. I’ll keep an eye out for future changes and try and let people know.”

The conversation went on to discuss further elements of the e-mail, and Sanford suggested they were going to change the e-mails again after the discussion. I think TjL reflected the developer community’s frustration exactly when he responded to the further changes,

“Seriously? I’ve already started telling people to change their filters
and now they’re going to break *again*.

This is why daddy drinks.

All kidding aside, I don’t understand how a change like this gets
pushed out without the left hand knowing WTF the right hand is doing —
which is what it looks like (from an outsider’s perspective) happened.

IMO/FWIW: You’ve gotten too big to make these sorts of changes without
more consideration and communication. It makes me look bad as a
developer, and it makes Twitter look bad.

The irony is that you’re a company built around communication.”

Twitter has got to change their ways – on my blog posts about this I’m seeing comment after comment of developers now refusing to develop on the Twitter development platform because of their lack of warning during changes like this. The thing is I’m not complaining about rate limits or Twitter scalability or anything like that at all when I’m complaining. As developers, we simply want a little bit of communication before changes go out. I actually like Twitter. I have a business with components built on it so I want it to succeed. I also think the Twitter dev team has done an outstanding job building out this amazing API. The only area they’re failing in right now is communication. We need a) a clear developer ToS, and b) warning before changes go in, or come out. Developers have been amazingly patient for the most part regarding this, but I know there is frustration.

I want to be clear that I love what the Twitter API team is doing. I really like and respect Alex and Matt and the rest of the team working extremely hard, often to the late hours of the night working on this stuff. I’m not sure where the fault lies, but I do hope they are listening. We need some warning on this stuff guys.

There is still no official announcement on the Developer mailing list, nor any official blog post by Twitter on the e-mail changes.