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Automation rules and best practices

Updated July 10, 2013

We’re constantly amazed by the applications and services that develop around the Twitter platform. Here are a few best practice examples of Twitter accounts that connect to third-party applications so that they can tweet automatically:

1. @Klmfares replies to structured Tweets with airfares:

@taylorharwin Lowest return fare for San Francisco to Paris: USD 1380 Book now: klmf.ly/x0whSD

— KLM fares (@KLMfares) May 11, 2012

2. @OHClosings alerts followers about school closures:

2-hour delay: Upper Sandusky EVSD in Wyandot County.

— CentralOhio.com (@OHClosings) January 26, 2012

However, spammers also take advantage of automation. This page provides guidance for automating your Twitter account. It also outlines prohibited automations that create a negative user experience and could get your account suspended for violating the Twitter Rules.

How automation works

You have to grant access to third-parties before they can post to your account or perform other actions on behalf of your account, like following.

Please see our help page on Connecting to Third-Party Applications for information on how applications connect with Twitter accounts.

Ultimately, you are responsible for the actions of your account, which means you shouldn't give control of your account to a third-party unless you've thoroughly investigated the application. If your account automation is violating the Twitter Rules (by retweeting spam updates, repeatedly posting duplicate links, etc.), your account will be suspended.

Automating your Tweets

Automating your Tweets based on an action you've completed

It’s generally fine to tweet when you complete a particular action. For example, you can post to your Twitter timeline whenever you upload a video to YouTube, create a new photo album, or beat a high score in your favorite game.

Automating your Tweets by streaming external information

If you want to automate your account with a feed from your personal blog or updates from your RSS feed, the following conditions apply:

  • Feeds of your own blog: It’s generally fine to automate your account with updates of your own content; just be sure to review the Twitter Rules before setting up your automation.
  • Feeds that go through redirects or promotional pages: If you're posting automated links that redirect through landing or ad pages before the final content, your account may be suspended for posting misleading links, a violation of the Twitter Rules.
  • Feeds for community benefit: You can create feeds for community benefit, or to provide information to a niche group of users, such as local weather feeds or transit information.

    Automatically tweeting to trending topics

    Trending topics are the most tweeted-about topics on Twitter at any moment. Posting automated Tweets to trending topics can degrade the experience for other users, and may result in your account being automatically filtered from search. If this happens, your followers will still see your Tweets but they will not appear in search results.

    Automating your tweets to include references to unrelated trending topics will result in account suspension.

    Mass-creating automated accounts

    There are legitimate reasons why users may have multiple accounts. Automating multiple accounts for community benefit is permitted. For example, Twitter users can now find out when the Hubble Space Telescope passes overhead, whether they’re in San Francisco or Hong Kong. Such accounts are generally filtered from search results, as they often post similar updates across multiple accounts.

    Creating serial or bulk accounts with overlapping use, however, is prohibited. Please file a support ticket if you have questions on appropriate use. Include the list of accounts and your planned use of each account; accounts with overlapping use cases are generally not approved. Users operating serial accounts must maintain them within the Twitter Rules, and violations may result in permanent suspension of all related accounts.

    Automated spam bots

    Some automated spam accounts steal other users' Tweets in order to appear like a real person. If you think you might be experiencing this issue, please file a support request selecting "Reporting spam" from the drop-down. Our Trust & Safety team can investigate to determine if this is the cause. Please include links to the exact username you are reporting, and any relevant status updates (see this help page for detailed instructions on finding a Tweet's status link).

    The Twitter Rules include a list of criteria we consider when investigating potential spam accounts. Accounts showing a pattern of repeatedly reposting others' content without attribution, particularly in an automated fashion, may be suspended for spam.

    Automating other account actions

    Automated @replies and mentions

    The @reply and Mention functions are intended to make communication between users easier, and automating these processes in order to reach many users is considered an abuse of the feature. If you are automatically sending @reply messages or Mentions to many users, the recipients must request or approve this action in advance. For example, sending automated @replies based on keyword searches is not permitted.

    Users should also have an easy way to opt-out of your service (in addition to the requirement that all users must opt-in before receiving the messages). We review blocks and reports of spam, so you’ll need to provide a clear way for users to opt-out from your messages.

    Automated retweeting of other users

    We discourage the automatic retweeting of other users based on a particular keyword and may suspend accounts that engage in this behavior, particularly if they are being frequently blocked and reported as spam.

    Automated following and un-following

    You may not use or develop any service that allows for the following or unfollowing of user accounts in a bulk or automated manner. Accounts and applications that engage in this practice will be suspended. Please review our Follow Rules and Best Practices for a detailed discussion of following recommendations.

    Also note that per the Twitter Rules, "get followers fast" applications and services are not allowed. Do not surrender your username and password to them, or otherwise grant access to or control of your account to any third party apps that claim to provide such services.

    Automating your direct messages

    Including an automated “thanks for following” message to your new followers might be annoying to some users. We do not recommend this behavior; if you receive a DM you don’t like, you can unfollow that user and they will no longer be able to send you messages.

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