Twitter has released their most detailed guidelines yet (updated link 2013) on what they consider spam within their system. Commercial users take note. Although they emphasise that commercial or promotional use of Twitter is allowed the following activities may be considered spam and result in account suspension.
1. Following other accounts in order to gain attention to your account or links
2. Creating a series of accounts in order to promote the same thing
3. Sending large numbers of @reply messages that are not genuine replies
4. Creating updates in order to show up in search results
5. Disguising links (i.e. writing about one thing but linking to another)
6. If a large number of users have blocked you (relative to those following you)
These guidelines are in addition to their standard TOS clauses.
I don’t think these will impact too many ‘real’ users but there maybe some implications. Point 3 would seem to kill off any automated response scripts for example. Some of these new guidelines do seem a little vague from my perspective, for example #4 would seem hard to prove and most Twitter users have probably been guilty of #1 at some time. What do you think?
Considering that people/companies invest a large amount of time and therefore cost into establishing their Twitter accounts, you would hope the moderators apply these rules with account history and context in mind.
Update 01.09.08: Is this the End of Keyword Marketing on Twitter?
A tweet by Scottclark just got me thinking that #3 maybe the one to watch here. This guideline could potentially apply to keyword marketing on Twitter. Companies have caught onto using Twitter as a source of potential customers, with operators using free tools such as search.twitter.com or http://tweetbeep.com/ to alert them when certain keywords are mentioned. They then @reply the user with their marketing message or offer of support.
For example, you mention you are looking for an image and a certain image search engine will send you a note. Or less helpfully, as Scott points out, there are now Indian outsourcing companies jumping on mentions of programming languages.
You also have companies replying ORM style to mentions of their name or products. If you comment about Firefox you can expect a fairly instant response from their support team.
This adds a new dimension to the earlier comments in the Twitter announcement about companies creating “opt-in relationships”. Where do they draw the line?