Twitter updates Developer Policy to reshape its position on bots

Twitter’s updated Developer Policy will reflect the company’s new position on bots, as well as making it more transparent on how data should be used.

To make it easier to understand, the new version has a conversational tone.

Furthermore, it is much shorter compared to the old one, cutting down eight sections to four.

Twitter realises the importance of using its data to study topics such as abuse and spam and wants to support these efforts.

From now on, using the Twitter API for academic research is permitted.

The company also wants to help researchers, and to that end, the latter are now allowed to use an unlimited amount of Tweet IDs and/or user IDs, provided that they need them for non-commercial research purposes.

The revised policy also requires developers to be more transparent with their intentions by making it necessary to clarify them and ask for permission every time their use case goes through substantive modification.

Otherwise, the accounts may be subject to suspension, which includes the API.

Off-Twitter matching is another topic that the new policy attempts to address.

If a Twitter profile is built using the data of others, it must be either publicly accessible or consent from the user in question will be needed.

One of the most important changes is how Twitter views bots.

Going forward, bots will not be necessarily viewed as bad, and the company even considers some of them to be enhancing the Twitter experience.

To provide a definition, bot accounts are any accounts characterised by behaviours such as publishing, creating, or interacting with tweets using automation.

The developers, however, will be asked to specify whether they are using a bot account or not – Twitter wants to make this public knowledge.

Unfortunately, those who are looking to use bots for nefarious purposes such as distributing disinformation or propaganda are likely to ignore the rule altogether.