6 Million Unfollows Later, Twitter Moves To Silence ManageTwitter

As I wrote about back in February, ManageTwitter is easily one of the most useful third-party Twitter services out there. While there are plenty of services that help you find new people to follow, there simply aren’t enough that help you prune those that you already follow. For those of us who have been using the service for years now, and have accumulated a lot of people we follow over that time, this is a problem. ManageTwitter solves it brilliantly. And now Twitter is going to kill them.

As the service posted on its Posterous blog yesterday, Twitter has sent the service an email letting them know that they’re breaking one of their rules. Specifically, this is what Twitter wrote:

We’re writing to let you know that your application, ManageTwitter, breaks our Automation Rules and Best Practices (http://help.twitter.com/entries/76915). Specifically, it facilitates bulk automated user unfollowing, which is not allowed. It’s best for both our users and your users if your application follows the rules, so please make the necessary changes, such as removing the “Select All” option (and requiring users to decide on each user individually) to bring your application into compliance.

The problem is that ManageTwitter’s service isn’t automated at all. It simply offers up suggestions for who you should unfollow. As ManageTwitter writes:

Yes our application does facilitate bulk unfollowing BUT ManageTwitter does not facilitate any *automated* bulk unfollowing, the user has to filter based on criteria. The user is still required to do significant processing to unfollow groups of people. Furthermore the system only allows unfollowing of up to only 100 at a time.

They go on to note that they understand Twitter’s rule, but again, do not believe they are breaking it. It’s possible that the portion Twitter doesn’t like is that the checkboxes next to usernames are automatically selected for deletion (I don’t particularly like this either because most users — even many of the ones they suggest — I don’t want to unfollow) — and if so, that’s an easy fix. I have an email into Twitter asking them if that would be good enough and will update when I hear back.

I can certainly see Twitter not approving of the name for trademark reasons — but they’re apparently not disputing that at the moment, just the bulk unfollow bit.

Or maybe Twitter just doesn’t like the fact that ManageTwitter has managed to help 35,000 users unfollow nearly 6 million people on the service. I can’t imagine any social network would like a third-party service changing the social graph in such a way. But again, this service is very useful to many users, and I believe makes Twitter better — even if it is slightly less connected.

ManageTwitter is asking that you retweet this tweet in support of them.

Update: Twitter has confirmed that “removing the default select all would put them in compliance on the mentioned issue.”

[Thanks Courtenay]