In its attempts to reduce the effects of automated tweets through spam and propaganda bots, Twitter has cracked down on tweetdecking, or the process of selling reteweets for money, by banning several large Twitter accounts with millions of followers in February.
The practice involves users participating in secret networks known as decks; individuals would pay the owner of a deck to have its tweetdeck members retweet that content a number of times to artificially inflate reach and audience engagement.
“Keeping Twitter safe and free from spam is a top priority for us,” wrote Yoel Roth, API Policy and Product Trust for Twitter, on the platform’s Developer Blog. “One of the most common spam violations we see is the use of multiple accounts and the Twitter developer platform to attempt to artificially amplify or inflate the prominence of certain Tweets. To be clear: Twitter prohibits any attempt to use automation for the purposes of posting or disseminating spam, and such behavior may result in enforcement action.”
As mentioned by Roth, Tweetdecking violates Twitter’s rules for spam, resulting in accounts being locked or permanently suspended for the following infractions:
- if you create fake accounts, account interactions, or impressions;
- if you sell, purchase, or attempt to artificially inflate account interactions (such as followers, Retweets, likes, etc.); and
- if you use or promote third-party services or apps that claim to get you more followers, Retweets, or likes (such as follower trains, sites promising “more followers fast”, or any other site that offers to automatically add followers or engagements to your account or Tweets).
Tweetdecks are widely associated with users stealing content from other users for profit, preying on smaller Twitter accounts, as smaller accounts have no method of reprisal in the face of their stolen tweets going viral on other accounts. If small accounts attempt to retaliate, members of tweetdecks will mass report the account in an attempt to get it locked or permanently suspended.
The pay model varies depending on the popularity of the tweetdeck, but single retweets average between 5-10 dollars. Some tweetdecks offer week or month-long subscriptions that provide buyers with unlimited access, often costing hundreds of dollars.
Owners of tweetdecks can make thousands of dollars per month from tweetdecking and deck members are reported to make hundreds of dollars from simply retweeting content.
While many accounts have already been suspended, users are still able to have content from one account retweeted by multiple accounts according to Twitter’s guidance policy.
Similar content posted to multiple accounts will be flagged, as well any form of automation that performs actions such as Likes or Retweets across many accounts. Exceptions to this include cross-posting outside information for RSS feeds or weather alerts.
Including the guidance policy, Twitter is also introducing changes to TweetDeck and users will no longer be able to select multiple accounts to perform actions like tweeting, retweeting, liking or following.
Users have until March 23 to comply with the new policy changes before Twitter will enforce action “up to and including the suspension of associated applications and accounts.”