Twitter to Developers: Public APIs, Gnip Cannot Be Used for Surveillance

Twitter issued a reminder to developers that its public APIs and data products are not to be used for surveillance purposes.

Twitter issued a reminder to developers that its public application-programming interfaces and data products are not to be used for surveillance purposes.

Vice president of data strategy Chris Moody issued the reminder in a blog post, writing that while public tweets have successfully been used by first responders in situations such as emergencies and natural disasters:

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.

Moody added that Twitter has an internal review process for Gnip data products when new developers come on board, and all or part of requested use cases may be rejected, adding:

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.

Readers: What are your thoughts on Twitter’s message to developers?