Why Does Twitter Still Allow Automated Tweets From Third Parties?

Yesterday, there was a piece in Forbes that was waxing lyrical about new social network Pheed, which, thanks to some heavy celebrity sign-ups, is being pitched as “the new Twitter”.

Yeah, we’ve been here before. Many, many times. Of course Pheed isn’t the new Twitter. But, curious as I am, I signed up to take a look.

And then Pheed immediately auto-posted to my Twitter profile.

Okay, hands up. This is my fault. I signed up to Pheed with my Twitter account, via the official Twitter button, and should probably have known better. Egg on my face. Silly, silly me. But, let’s think about that for a second. Just because I choose to register with a website using my Twitter profile, does that automatically give them the right to send a message out on my Twitter feed? Without warning or an opt out?

And if it does, why is Twitter still allowing this? Don’t they want people to sign up using their Twitter profile? I mean, seriously, if using the Twitter button to sign up means that this third party can do X whenever they want, then, really, why would you? Why would anyone? Given that what people see from you on your Twitter profile is, in many ways, day in and day out, a reflection of your life and you as a person, who wants to take that sort of a risk?

Yes, Twitter does flash up a warning box when using their connect button letting you know what the third party can and cannot do with your Twitter profile. But it’s simple lip service – you can’t opt out of any part of it. It’s in for a penny, in for a pound. Yes, or no. And if choose no, then the connection is severed. Facebook lets you say no to this stuff while also allowing you to authorise the connection. With Twitter, if you want to use their button, and your profile, to authorise a third party app, you have to go along with its demands.

I say: this isn’t fair. And it isn’t right. And, being absolutely frank, it’s maddeningly limited, borderline deranged behaviour from a social platform that’s quickly managed to get its fingers into all four corners of the globe and is now trying to position itself as a media behemoth.

And given Twitter’s clamp-down on third party developers, the fact that they’re still letting them auto-post just doesn’t even make sense. Twitter’s turned this into a kind of Louis C.K. bit. “Oh sure, go ahead and auto-post to their feeds. We’re shutting you down for good in March, but until then, screw ’em. Get those tweets out while you still can.”

Thankfully, there’s a simple solution. All Twitter has to do is add a button to our profile settings that lets us (all of us) permanently opt out of auto-posting. I am never going to want any third party to post something to my Twitter stream. Never, ever, ever. I loathe automated updates. I’ve made this point many times. I would happily click on a button that prevents this from ever happening to me, ever again, on Twitter.

And if you’re smart about your online security and privacy, then so would you. And, call me crazy, but this just might make the Twitter connect button something that people would actually want to use.

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