In breaking news, automated SaaS Twitter favoriting platform Twitfox has recently had to cease and desist with its service, citing massive policy changes from Twitter itself – “outside the scope of applications [we’re] willing to allow”.
Looking at the The Twitter Rules, currently standing as of 19/05/2015, there has always been prohibitions with regards to illegally buying or selling tweets, Twitter followers or Twitter accounts.
There are the following rules stated about Favoriting other users, declaring that the following behaviours constitute towards their consideration of ‘Spamming’:
Randomly or aggressively following, favoriting or Retweeting Tweets
Selling or purchasing account interactions (such as selling or purchasing followers, retweets, favorites, etc.)
Previously, however, it has not had any rules or regulations when it comes to favoriting tweets that are directly relevant, useful or engaging to an account’s userbase. Twitter will most likely argue that the automation of this process falls outside a ‘genuine’ favouriting of its content – being instead spamming to gain a useful response (such as retweets, like-for-like favorites, or follows). The issue therefore comes with the nature of these responses, as Twitfox states on their homepage:
The followers we generate are 100% real people with an interest in your niche or vertical. What we do is quite a simple premise, there’s no tricks to the method. Our tool actually works, we don’t need to be sneaky to hit the targets we’ve listed.
In other words; if a user finds their content favorited and decides to follow the relevant account? That’s a genuine interest and a real desire-driven interaction – even if the ‘fav’ might not have been. They go on to state, on the homepage itself, that:
Automating favorites and retweets is well within Twitter’s terms of service and using this tool will not get your account banned. Automated following is against the terms, so we don’t include that feature. With that said, users can still manually report your actions if they feel you’re spamming them, so as long as you use the tool responsibly you’ll be fine.
Now many other SaaS Twitter tools, such as you might find listed on Crozdesk, are wondering if they’re next!
Quoting from Jordan Nesbitt, the owner and creator of Twitfox:
Jordan from Twitfox here. You’re receiving this email because you’re a subscriber to Twitfox, the growth-hacking tool that automatically favorites tweets for you on Twitter. Unfortunately I bring bad news.
Last Friday 15th May Twitter disabled Twitfox’s access to their service. You may have noticed there hasn’t been any updates since then – that is why.
Twitter have recently changed their terms of service to outlaw applications that automate the favoriting process – applications like Twitfox. They’ve disabled Twitfox because it now falls outside of the scope of applications that they’re willing to allow. A month ago I took some measures to try and prolong the service for existing users in response to this (including disabling signup for new users), but I’ve decided this time not to try and fight back. Therefore this email is to confirm the closure of Twitfox, and that no more action will be taken on your account by the Twitfox service.
Your PayPal subscription should recently have been cancelled, and no more payments will be taken.
I have begun refunding everyone for the unused days on this month’s subscription quota (plus any days credited to your account), starting with those owed the most. This is a manual process and it may take a few days before I get to you, so I kindly ask for your patience.
If you’re an agency, had multiple accounts on Twitfox, or you really liked using Twitfox (and got loads of value out of it), I will be setting up a private version of Twitfox as a premium package so that you have the option to continue using it. This is the route that Twitfox will be taking now in order to remain usable. Please send me an email if you would like to be included and I will send further instructions.
It’s been a great experience developing Twitfox over the last 2 years, and a pleasure talking to and even meeting some of you. It’s unfortunate and disappointing that this has to happen.
As of time of press, there has been little comment from similar products offering the same, or related, services. However, Jerre from TweetFavy states the following:
As to the effect on our system: Yes, we did actually experience quite some issues. At first, users would sign-up using our own Twitter app. However, Twitter tried hard to ban our access to their systems, and so we ended up asking all our users to create their own Twitter apps instead and give us the API and Access tokens. Not really ideal, but it’s the only way in which we can keep running our service.
As to the effect on the users: Other than having to create their own app as mentioned above, they are not having any issues, nor are they under any risk. We’ve done quite a lot of testing and never had a single user being banned as the result of using our system, and we don’t expect Twitter is ever going to.
Other comments come from Dilmer Valecillos, software engineer at TwitterFav:
Hi Alex we did [experience issues] but came up with solutions to make our app compliant. This is what I have been sending to users to ensure they understand our app changes.
Basically what happened is that Twitter changed their automation policies forcing us to make the service more manual.
What I ended up doing is leaving the automation pull tweets based on your rules but users would use a quick mode to quickly favorite any tweets. If you click on the favorite, retweet, or unfavorite buttons you will notice that the interface quickly scrolls your selection down to the next button position to allow you to very very quickly favorite many tweets. I have more information about these changes including Twitter policy changes on our page.
To compensate users I added many new features such as Follower / Unfollower, follower engagement graphs, and a new automation option to setup direct messages to new followers, honestly I basically add new features everyday.
It seems likely that the rest might lie low, and see how this disrupts the ecosystem of services that rely of this offering – alongside the ‘Following’ of growth hackers, business development managers, social media managers and SME’s that might have been using this tool (and others) to great effect.
Time will tell!