Twitter Auto Follow – denied?

A statement by Twitter founder Biz Stone on March 31st has implied that Twitter is against the Auto Follow functionality employed by third party sites and twitter users who simply cant be arsed to manually check out the people they associate themselves with.  The email from Biz Stone, in its entirety, is included at the end of this thread.

Now the email isn’t exactly saying that Twitter will officially and actively stop or block accounts that employ the Auto Follow feature, far from it in fact, its addressing one particular account which had requested this feature be turned on via twitter support.

twitter no autofollow

Without reading into this to much I don’t think Twitter will remove or prevent the auto follow feature employed by various third party apps.  What this email signifies is that Twitter themselves do not condone it officially but they also understand that it is employed by twitter users and apps in different circumstances and for different reasons.

Personally I believe that any valuable twitter account will not employ auto follow.  Plain and simple.  No excuses. Why would I think that.  Lets look at the advantages and disadvantages of using  Auto Follow:

Reasons to use Auto Follow

  • You never have to use twitter, you simply let it all build up.
  • I can show off to my fiends by talking about how many followers I have.
  • I don’t have time to follow all those people back.
  • Its easy.

Reasons to NOT use Auto Follow

  • You have no idea who you are associated with.  There may be porn sites, or worse, in your group.
  • You gain more from less people by actually knowing them, helping, interacting and trusting.
  • You control the flow of information relevant to you.
  • The higher quality your network the more business you will gain and provide and the more money you will make in the long term and in repeat business.

In the meantime though, things will continue as they are with thousands of people utterly convinced that the number of followers they have (even if 90% of those followers are bots) actually means something and the marketeers merrily building as many lists of lists of lists to sell their flash in the pan products too the unsuspecting few who have been duped into following them. I wonder if they actually make any money and when did credit cards get issued to bots…weird.


Biz Stones Email about Auto Follow:

Hi There,

I’m contacting you because you have a Twitter account for which
we enabled something called “autofollow.” This is not a public
feature, it’s something we did for a limited set of accounts
such that they automatically follow any account that follows

We’re going to discontinue autofollow because this behavior
sends the wrong message. Namely, it is unlikely that anyone can
actually read tweets from thousands of accounts which makes
this activity disingenuous.

However, we understand that there may be exceptions such as
applications built using our API or the ability to exchange
direct messages. There are also some who think it’s simply
polite to follow back other accounts.

While we’re going to stop supporting autofollow, we’d like to
find a way to support the other goals folks are really trying
to accomplish. Please feel free to reply to this email and let
us know how we can do this better together.

Biz Stone, Co-founder
Twitter, Inc.