Twitter Updates Logos, Rules: Info On Logo Use, Screenshots, And Capital “T” Tweets

Today on the Twitter blog, the company wrote a post that was all of three sentences to let people know about their new logos. Yay!

But there’s actually quite a bit more to it then it seems.

If you follow the link they provide to Guidelines page, you’ll find some interesting tidbits. Among them:

  • Don’t: “Use anything other than the most current versions of the Twitter logos.”
  • Don’t: “Use screenshots of other people’s profiles or Tweets without their permission.”

Both are interesting because both are broken all the time. Well, okay the first one doesn’t quite count yet because Twitter just officially launched their new logos. But hundreds if not thousands of sites around the web have been using old or fake Twitter logos to represent the company for a long time.

The latter rule is definitely more troublesome. Tweets are known to be public items, but Twitter is saying you can’t use screenshots of them without permission. We do this all the time. So does just about every other publication. We’ve never been told this is wrong, it seems to reek of fair use, but now Twitter is saying it’s a no-no. (Update below from Twitter)

A few months ago, Twitter tried to come up with their own solution for this with their own Blackbird Pie tweet embed tool. It’s interesting that in their post on it, they never said this screen-grabbing of tweets was wrong. In fact, they note “Mostly, we just think it’s a pain to take screen grabs of tweets.” Notice they call it a “pain”, not “wrong”.

Twitter does say it’s fine to use others’ tweets that you have permission to use. But again, isn’t this stuff already public?

Also interesting:

  • Do: Make sure that if mentioning “Tweet,” you include a direct reference to Twitter (for instance, “Tweet with Twitter”) or display the Twitter marks with the mention of “Tweet.”

This would seem to be all about Twitter gaining the trademark to the word “tweet”, which they’ve been trying unsuccessfully to do. They also later note, “Please remember to capitalize the T in Twitter and Tweet!” As a commenter notes, it’s funny that they don’t even capitalize it in their own logo!

Update: Okay, we’ve clarified some things with Twitter.

From their spokesperson regarding the new logos:

The purpose of the update was to provide access to our new resources and to better clarify some guidelines.

We’re encouraging people to use the new marks. It’s okay for them to continue to use the old ones, but we’re hoping people will use the new ones. We said this before too, as this isn’t the first time our marks have changed.

And regarding the screenshots:

This isn’t a new part of the policy and was stated in the guidelines before. This serves primarily to protect users from their tweets being used as endorsements without their knowledge. Public tweets are public. But if you’re going to use tweets in static form (e.g. in a publication), you should have permission from the author/user. For instance, if someone famous were to tweet about liking something and then it was used on a billboard.

This doesn’t apply to broadcast — there are separate display guidelines about that. Our policies also don’t attempt to control the appropriate use of tweets in news reporting.

That’s a bit confusing (and I’ve asked for further clarification), but it sounds as if they won’t be enforcing the rule for individuals (including reporters) taking screenshots of tweets. It’s more for advertisers attempting to use tweets as endorsements without permission.

Update 2: More clarity from Twitter:

For news, whether online or print, it’s okay to use screenshots of Tweets. The permission applies more to merchandise, billboards, etc. Users’ rights are key.

In other words, screenshot away, bloggers. Which is good — but basically they’re just saying they won’t be enforcing the rules. That’s still a bit troubling going forward. They could enforce them anytime — why not just make the specific rules more clear? This reeks of the legal department covering asses here just in case they have to drop a hammer.

Regarding the capital “T” in tweet:

We view Tweet as meaning content on Twitter, rather than a generic word. With that, it should be capitalized when it’s a noun. This isn’t new, and it’s not something we enforce.

Again, that seems to be all about copyright — and mainly when used in publications.