Twitter Gets More Businesslike with New Terms of Service

By Clint Boulton  |  Posted 2009-09-11

Twitter Sept. 10 revised its terms of service, adding allowances for online advertising and more clarity about content ownership, APIs and spam.

The microblogging service, which lets users post messages of 140 characters or fewer and has become popular among celebrities, received more than 50 million visitors in July.

The exponential growth of the site, which companies such as Dell and Pepsi are using to market products, has Internet industry experts calling for the service to be more professional and polished. The new terms of service are a step in that direction.

For example, while Twitter's founders have appeared disinterested in making advertising a revenue stream on Twitter, the new terms of service say Twitter services may include advertisements. Ads may be targeted to the content or information on the services, queries made through the services, or other information.

"In the Terms, we leave the door open for advertising. We'd like to keep our options open as we've said before," Twitter co-founder Biz Stone wrote in a blog post. However, the company said it has no plans to announce regarding ads.

Twitter also added more detail to the content ownership question. While the tweets, or messages users post to Twitter, are owned by the users who post content, Stone said, "Twitter is allowed to use, copy, reproduce, process, adapt, modify, publish, transmit, display and distribute your tweets because that's what we do."

Twitter is also revising guidelines for use of the ballyhooed Twitter API, which scores of programmers have already used to extend Twitter, creating applications that search, aggregate, track and analyst tweets. eWEEK profiled 20 popular Twitter apps here.

Twitter, the target of a hack earlier this year, also outlined in broad and fine strokes its policies on user privacy, user passwords, abusive behavior and spam.

To show how much more fleshed out the new TOS is compared with the previous Twitter TOS, Twitter has saved a link to the previous policy here.

Read more about this topic on TechMeme here.

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