Twitter Application Site Receives Cease & Desist From Twitter

August 12th, 2009 |

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Ploked.com is all about being plugged into social media. We strive to provide informative, relevant, and unique perspectives in the world of social media.

MyTwitterButler.com has posted on their site that they received a letter from Twitter claiming several violations of the Twitter terms of service.  The details including a PDF of the letter sent to the site owner can be viewed here.  While the site owner claims they are being sued, that does not yet appear to be the case.  In fact, the PDF outlines the various violations this site has in regards to Twitter and their terms of service.

Site Background

A quick background on MyTwitterButler is that they sell a desktop application to help Twitter users get more followers.  Twitter has been known to be against “aggressive following” and it appears that is what they consider this application to do.  While Twitter never clearly defines what “aggressive following” is, it leaves it up to speculation of the developers and users. Looking at the developer terms of service, it simply says:

Do not create a bot to promote mass following. Twitter enables users to find and connect with people. Mass following does not help users find interesting connections. Applications found to be promoting valueless mass-following or following-ponzi schemes will be promptly blacklisted. So please, spend your time developing something that helps users find people with interesting connections.

As you can see, the definition of “mass following” is not clearly defined. However, alot of Twitter activity is based on third party apps that make the use of Twitter more efficient.  What is the real difference if you manually go through the Twitter search to find new users to add based on your interests/keyword opposed to using an application that automates the process for you?  You can save countless hours with the help of an application that does this.  In fact, MyTwitterButler allows you to search for users based on keywords. Therefore, I would think this application could be classified as “something that helps users find people with interesting connections” in reference to the last sentence quoted above.

Would Twitter of Even Cared?

Would this letter ever been created if the site in question did not have the word “Twitter” in their domain name?  At first glance, I would say no, but the fact someone is selling a product with a trademarked name in it, more than likely raised a flag or two at Twitter.  This could have led Twitter into further exploration of the site where they looked for other violations to list, such as the aggressive following of the software.

We all know there are plenty of Twitter friend adder sites and apps available, but none of the other ones have received a letter from Twitter.  Or maybe it is a matter of time before other friend adder sites get the same treatment?  Or maybe it really all stemmed from using the Twitter trademark in the domain and product name?

Use of Trademarked Names

We have seen this type of stuff before with Myspace and Facebook in regards to others using their trademarked names.  You would think people would be well aware of the possible legal actions that could happen from using a trademarked name in a site or product.  However, it appears this site owner got caught and is now going to have to change domain names/product names and possibly no longer sell a software that “aggressively follows” according to the non descript Twitter developer terms of use, however it will be interesting to see if Twitter considers this software to fall under “something that helps users find people with interesting connections” as mentioned in their developer terms of service.

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  • http://www.MyTwitterButler.com Dean Collins

    Thanks for your post.

    – just a quick point first, the website is http://www.MyTwitterButler.com not ‘the’twitterbutler

    Apart from this you wrote a well balance article.

    Yes will be interesting to see if the other 21 Twitter inclusive domain name companies found with a google search also got served by the lawyer last night.

    As discussed elsewhere i originally wrote the application to find people twittering about baseball.

    so i’d search for MLB baseball team names.

    So i guess what Fenwick and Webb are saying is if i manually log into twitter and click to follow each of the people who just wrote about my application “thats ok”

    http://search.twitter.com/search?q=mytwitterbutler

    BUT if i use a little .Net application to do it “Then I’m breaking the ‘Law’ and must – Cease and Desist”

    My application doesnt ‘cheat or get around’ the twitter API limits eg i cant follow more people in a day or there is no way to cheat and direct message more people than Twitter already allow you to do.

    So basically i’m confused – what exactly am i doing via the API that i cant already do via the website?

    Cheers,
    Dean

    • http://ploked.com ploked

      sorry about the mix up on the domain name…corrected it in the article.

      thanks for commenting on the post, it will be interesting to see how it all plays out.

      keep us posted!

  • http://www.easysitebuild.com/ website builder

    Thank you for giving us an update. I'm happy that my twitter tool is not affected by this cease and desist order from twitter.

  • http://www.easysitebuild.com/ website builder

    Thank you for giving us an update. I'm happy that my twitter tool is not affected by this cease and desist order from twitter.