Friday, September 11, 2009

Twitter: How to exploit a million monkeys

I got a nice little mail informing me of an update to Twitter's Terms of Service.

For a long time, Twitter has claimed the following:

"Twitter has many appealing opportunities for generating revenue but we are holding off on implementation for now because we don't want to distract ourselves from the more important work at hand which is to create a compelling service and great user experience for millions of people around the world. While our business model is in a research phase, we spend more money than we make."

Well, the updated TOS seem to indicate that the time has come to cash in those chips.  The updated terms seem mainly centered around screwing you and me over for a buck.

Firstly, they're "leaving the door open" for advertising, which seems like no big deal, but the one that's going to piss everyone off is the following:

"By submitting [...] you grant us a worldwide, non-exclusive, royalty-free license [...] to use, copy, reproduce, process, adapt, modify, publish, transmit, display and distribute such Content in any and all media or distribution methods (now known or later developed).

You agree that this license includes the right for Twitter to make such Content available to other companies [...]

Such additional uses by Twitter, or other companies, organizations or individuals who partner with Twitter, may be made with no compensation paid to you with respect to the Content that you submit, post, transmit or otherwise make available through the Services."
[emphasis mine]


As I point out in my copyright page, all of my Tweets are public domain anyway, so I don't really give a hoot that Biz Stone will be driving a new Ferrari thanks to my rapier wit.  But I can see how this is going to cause a real shitstorm among people who actually believed Twitter's old Terms of Service which promised never to infringe on your ownership of your tweets, and among privacy advocates (read: smelly hippies) who sincerely believed the accounts they marked "private" actually were private.

Ultimately, none of us have a right to complain.  It's a free service (free as in "beer", at least), and Twitter doesn't owe any of its users jack shit.

If you've ever considered moving over to, now's the time.  And to everyone who ripped on, I can only say "HAHA!".

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