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Why Making Twitter Apps Could Be A Risky Business

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imageTwitter has capped the number of accounts a user could follow in a single day to 1,000 — the company said there were “technical reasons” behind the change, but also made it clear that the follower-limit was meant to discourage spammers. The problem is that Twitter started enforcing this follower-limit without giving developers a heads up, and for app-makers like SocialToo’s Jesse Stay, the change reduced the utility of their services.

Stay isn’t the only developer up in arms about the follower caps, LouisGray reports that apps like TweetLater and Mr. Tweet have also had to deal with reduced functionality because of limits Twitter is placing on their ability to get user data. To be fair, Twitter has the right to establish tech protocols so that third-party apps don’t overload its system (and also to keep hackers out), but what has developers concerned is that the startup constantly changes the rules — and often without giving them advance notice. And it makes the growing business of creating add-ons like TweetDeck or even ad-sponsored Twitter streams a risky one, since it’s not clear when or how Twitter will make changes that could damage their functionality.

Stay argues that it’s because Twitter has no real Terms of Service for developers. “There are lots of rules for Twitter users that we agree to, but nothing a developer must agree to when writing apps … This needs to change, and soon — we as developers need to know what we can and can