Twitter tweaks terms of service

The microblogging site assures users that they own their tweets while leaving "the door open for advertising" opportunities.
Written by Steven Musil, Contributor

Twitter posted changes to its terms of service Thursday, assuring users that they own their tweets while leaving "the door open for advertising" opportunities.

"The revisions more appropriately reflect the nature of Twitter and convey key issues such as ownership," Twitter co-founder Biz Stone wrote in a company blog. "For example, your tweets belong to you, not to Twitter."

In announcing the new terms of service, Stone also addressed the topics of abusive behavior and spam. These are four highlights Stone called out:

Advertising--In the Terms, we leave the door open for advertising. We'd like to keep our options open as we've said before.

Ownership--Twitter is allowed to "use, copy, reproduce, process, adapt, modify, publish, transmit, display and distribute" your tweets because that's what we do. However, they are your tweets and they belong to you.

APIs--The apps that have grown around the Twitter platform are flourishing and adding value to the ecosystem. You authorize us to make content available via our APIs. We're also working on guidelines for use of the API.

Spam--Abusive behavior and spam are also outlined in these terms according to the rules we've been operating under for some time.

The prominence of the advertising revision seems to suggest that the microblogging start-up is warming up to an advertising-based model, a dramatic change from comments Stone made in May.

"There are a few reasons why we're not pursuing advertising--one is it's just not quite as interesting to us," Stone said at the Reuters Technology Summit.

Certainly the ownership message is designed to avoid the user backlash created by a revision to Facebook's terms of use that some interpreted to mean that Facebook claimed ownership of user profile data and photos.

Steven Musil is the night news editor at CNET News. Before joining CNET News in 2000, Steven spent 10 years at various Bay Area newspapers. E-mail Steven.
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