Developer Policies to Protect People’s Voices on Twitter

Tuesday, 22 November 2016

Twitter shows what’s happening in the world at lightning speed, and our Gnip enterprise data products and the Twitter Public APIs make Tweets available in real-time to developers worldwide. We see influential work being accomplished through the use of these tools every day — from saving lives during flooding in Jakarta to helping the USGS track earthquakes to working with the UN to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals.

Like our platform, Twitter’s Public APIs and data products are built on content that people choose to share publicly, and we encourage developers to create products using this data for purposes in the public interest. For example, news alerts based on public Tweets play a powerful role in helping first responders in the U.S. react to emergencies and natural disasters to save lives. We believe this is an important service and support developers doing this important work.

Recent reports about Twitter data being used for surveillance, however, have caused us great concern. As a company, our commitment to social justice is core to our mission and well established. And our policies in this area are long-standing. Using Twitter’s Public APIs or data products to track or profile protesters and activists is absolutely unacceptable and prohibited.

To be clear: We prohibit developers using the Public APIs and Gnip data products from allowing law enforcement — or any other entity — to use Twitter data for surveillance purposes. Period. The fact that our Public APIs and Gnip data products provide information that people choose to share publicly does not change our policies in this area. And if developers violate our policies, we will take appropriate action, which can include suspension and termination of access to Twitter’s Public APIs and data products.

We have an internal process to review use cases for Gnip data products when new developers are onboarded and, where appropriate, we may reject all or part of a requested use case. Over the coming months, you’ll see us take on expanded enforcement and compliance efforts, including adding more resources for swiftly investigating and acting on complaints about the misuse of Twitter’s Public APIs and Gnip data products.

The vast majority of developers respect the voices of people using Twitter, and we appreciate and support the creative and innovative work being done by these developers every day.

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