New Twitter Terms-of-Service, open door for advertising

Today, Twitter founder Biz stone sent out an official newsletter informing all tweepers about the new ToS (Terms of Service). In his e-mail, Biz outlines that shaping the foundations of Twitter is an ongoing project:

As Twitter has evolved, we've gained a better understanding of how folks use the service.

The complete ToS can be found here, but there is also a post on the official blog outlining the most important principles, which are:

Advertising – In the Terms, we leave the door open for advertising. We'd like to keep our options open as we've said before.
Ownership – Twitter is allowed to “use, copy, reproduce, process, adapt, modify, publish, transmit, display and distribute” your tweets because that's what we do. However, they are your tweets and they belong to you.
APIs – The apps that have grown around the Twitter platform are flourishing and adding value to the ecosystem. You authorize us to make content available via our APIs. We're also working on guidelines for use of the API.
SPAM – Abusive behavior and spam is also outlined in these terms according to the rules we've been operating under for some time.

Let's take a closer look at the first two statements: Obviously, the Twitter team has a learned a lot from Facebook's ToS disaster: when the world's most popular social network announced a change in terms of copyright (“all your media are belong to us”), users started protesting immediately. I think it's important to balance two issues here: on the one hand, the service provider needs to be “in the clear” when it comes to (re)-distributing content, on the other hand, users like to “own” their stuff, at least on paper – so Twitter has found a pretty elegant solution for this situation.

The part about advertising is even more interesting: at some point, Twitter has to generate cash, and there are generally only two ways to achieve this: advertising or a premium aka paid service. Twitter has been quite reluctant about introducing paid accounts – plus, there are already two companies which try to “3rd-party-monetize” the service: Magpie and SponsoredTweets (I will not link the two service here as both are crap, at least for European users: SponsoredTweets doesn't have any outside-US offers and Magpie doesn't generate any money. So I highly recommend *not* using any of them).

These platforms offer Twitter whales – micro bloggers with more than 10k followers – some cash for spamming their followers. Naturally, this business model hasn't got them a lot of fans. But just imagine Twitter starting “official” advertising: they literally do have direct access to millions of users, which are perfectly targeted in terms of interests, location and language: I think Twitter created an enormous value for the advertising industry and if they really open the door for paid Tweets (or profile ads), it will lead to a stable income model. Maybe they'll even introduce paid accounts (pronounce: ad-free) at the same time – I'd pay for Twitter any day, with or without ads. What's your opinion on the future of paid tweets?

6 replies
  1. Andreas Klinger
    Andreas Klinger says:

    We have talked about this issue some time ago if you remember.
    But to be honest i still really dont get why they start proper advertisment.
    Imho: Screw Search Adv. Screw Classical External Link Advertisment.

    Simple Question: How much would you pay that users that don’t follow you see your tweets ?

    • ritchie
      ritchie says:

      That’s a good point, but it would make bot-monitoring a lot more difficult when money is involved.

      I think their strength lies in the possibility of elaborate behavioral targetting – Twitter is perfect push media after all. But indeed: screw classical advertising, it’s all about the tweets.

  2. Karolin
    Karolin says:

    Twitter is becoming the new XING, I think;-)You are contacting people from all over the world via twitter, it was a question of time when it will be used for advertisement and economic purposes.

    • ritchie
      ritchie says:

      Yes, seems like a necessary development – nobody can afford to burn money for an indefinite period of time and at some point Twitter needs to refinance their infrastructure and other spendings.

  3. Chris
    Chris says:

    i dont know if this is “necessary”, but in fact it’s a natural process. Whenever a free webservice becomes famous people think about how to get money from it. At least this new ToS are not as bad as the new ToS of the german Student-Platform studivz ;)

    • ritchie
      ritchie says:

      It’s definitely necessary! No company can afford to burn money forever… investors expect their roi, even though I admit the pressure doesn’t seem too high in Twitter’s case.


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