Ethical Community Building
Twiends has been built to provide users with a compliant, ethical, and responsible way of growing their online communities. As Twitter and Instagram grow in popularity and stature, they get to define a number of the rules by which people may use the services. Twitter was built in 2006 to answer one simple question, "what are you doing?". Over the last few years it has grown to become an important form of communication between people.
The benefit of being able to influence and communicate to a large audience is well known, and because of that an incentive to grow these audiences will always exist. Unfortunately, some groups will attempt to grow their audiences via any means possible, including means that can be considered unethical, a violation of twitter's terms of service, or in some cases criminal too.
Twiends decided to make its mark in the Twitter ecosystem by being the "good" community growing service. We recognized that our long-term success would only come about if we played by ALL the rules, consistently and fairly. Our number one priority is to always take our guidance from Twitter and to conform to their terms of service always. We recognize that failure to do this will result in our service not enduring through the years.
More recently we've expanded to support Instagram too.
Here are some of our (and their) guiding principles:
We want to be very clear about this as this is core to our service, we do not sell followers, and we do not automatically add followers to your account. This is strictly prohibited by all social networks and is clearly stated in most terms of services. Our web site is completely free for all to use and merely provides introductions for people. All following that takes place on the site is strictly opt-in and is performed by users themselves. We created the concept of a seed to encourage people to follow and meet each other, and we do sell seeds for those people that want to offer an even greater incentive to others to check them out. This is why we provide a flexible offer rate. People are not obliged to purchase seeds and can participate freely on the site without doing so. Here are some analogies for how the site has been described by others
It's like the recommended users list when you sign-up on twitter. Most of us will never be placed on the recommended users list on twitter. This site is an external means for providing initial introductions.
It's like speed-dating for social networking. Well, apart from the fact that there's obviously no dating taking place, it performs a similar function of introduction.
Spam is something we all hate, and we can safely say that none of us want to be a part of the problem. We think Twitter does a good job to list some guidelines around what it considers spammy behavior. Their definition isn't only restricted to what you tweet, but also incorporates a description on following and unfollowing behavior. There are two points specifically in twitter's terms of service that we want to address, namely: Following a large number of users in a short space of time, and following and unfollowing people in a short time period, particularly by automated means (aggressive follower churn).
Clearly following a large number of people solely for the purpose of getting them to follow you back would create a problem. twiends.com has been carefully created to be more of an introduction community than one big following tool. Here are some of the things we do to implement this:
- People choose who they want to follow. There is no incentive for someone
to follow you just because you followed them.
- You can only follow a small number of people each day, and you can only
be followed by a similar amount of people at the same time.
- We don't provide any means to unfollow people on the site. We want you to honestly
check out your new friends and decide over time who you want to follow in the long run.
- We monitor for aggressive follower churn and automatically filter out those users that do it.
- We suspend any account that has been suspended by Twitter or Instagram, no questions asked.
- You can only follow other site members through the site, you cannot target external
Twitter or Instagram users who are not on the site
Disclosure is important to us. Any time you stand to benefit from an endorsement then that connection should be disclosed. The FTC states this clearly, "When there exists a connection between the endorser and the seller of the advertised product which might materially affect the weight or credibility of the endorsement (i.e., the connection is not reasonably expected by the audience) such connection must be fully disclosed". You benefit when you send your referral link out and this could influence what you say about the site in a post or tweet. We ask you therefor to disclose your connection any time you endorse the site but stand to benefit from the endorsement.
We will not allow people to sell accounts on twiends.com. This is prohibited by all social networks and would only serve to encourage abuse. We will also not allow people to grow accounts on twiends.com for the purpose of selling them.
We will not collect information about you, other than your profile information provided by Twitter & Instagram and any information you directly provide to the site. We will not ask you for your Twitter password either, and we ask you never to give it to us or any other site. We use OAuth to authenticate with Twitter and you can revoke this access at any time. We will also not auto-tweet to your account. The only tweets sent by the site will be tweets explicitly sent by you.