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FAQs for Local News and Twitter’s New Rules (eek!)

Yes, it’s true: Twitter is making big changes to its rules and policies. Specifically the company says it’s trying to crack down on “spammy” use of automation to multiple accounts. And while you may not have ever considered your newsroom’s Twitter-strategy to be “spammy”… in a nutshell, Twitter is saying it is. And they want you to stop.

“Do not simultaneously post identical or substantially similar content to multiple accounts.” -Twitter Policy

This means, for example, you are not allowed to select multiple accounts as destinations for a single tweet. Ergo, you can’t post the SAME Tweet on your main news account, your weather account and 3 reporter accounts at the same time. Instead, Twitter says: “you can Retweet content from one account from the other accounts you wish to share that post from. This should only be done from a small number of distinct accounts that you directly control.” But be mindful, there’s a catch here too… Twitter also says: “Please note that bulk, aggressive, or very high-volume automated Retweeting is not permitted under the Automation Rules, and may be subject to enforcement actions.”

The Gray Area

For sure, the policy changes are not as crystal-clear as we would all like them to be. For example, there is that vague language around prohibition of “very high-volume automation”…(as opposed to?) And exceptions for “emergency” weather tweets. Not to mention the very concept of enforcement is muddy at best. But what we do know is:

  • You may not tweet the same content to more than one account at once.
  • You may not automatically RT to more than one account at once.
  • You may not hook up an RSS feed to post simultaneously to more than one account.
  • You may not tweet the same content over and over to a single account.

There is also very little confusion when it comes to the consequences of breaking said rules: As of March 23, 2018, Twitter says violations “could result in enforcement action, up to and including the suspension of associated applications and accounts.”

FAQs

There are three questions which have kept coming up from our local news partners. So we went straight to the source to clear it up as much as possible. Here’s what Twitter’s News Partnerships team had to say:

Q: If our newsroom posts the same link (but the rest of the tweet text is different each time), are we okay under these new rules? For example, during breaking news can we post the same live stream link repeatedly so long as the tweet text is different?

A: “Repeated or aggressive linking to identical content would be a violation of the Twitter Rules. Linking to a single page for substantially different purposes in a non-spammy fashion is permitted.”

Q: On the issue of posting duplicate content to the same twitter account, does that mean our newsroom can’t repost content ever? For example, if we have a tweet that does well on Monday, we can’t repost the same tweet later Tuesday (timeliness not withstanding)?

A: “No, you cannot post duplicate content.”

Q: Can you clarify the exemption for emergency weather and public information? It reads: “As a sole exception to this rule, applications that broadcast or share weather, emergency, or other public service announcements of broad community interest (for example, earthquake or tsunami alerts) are permitted to post this content across multiple accounts.”

A: “The policy grants an exception for weather, emergency, or other public service announcements of broad community interest — not just weather. These use cases are uncommon, and generally limited only to governments, weather services, or other entities responsible for public safety or welfare.”

What’s Changing in SND?

The most important thing to know is that SND is making the required changes to keep you in compliance with Twitter’s rules. This means starting March 22nd, SND is rolling out the following changes to comply with Twitter’s new policy:

  • SND will not allow you to automatically publish or schedule a tweet to more than one account at once.
  • SND will not allow you automatically RT to more than one account at once.
  • SND will not publish pre-scheduled tweets to more than one account, those will fail to go out starting March 23rd. (Please rewrite them such that there is only one destination account per Tweet).

That said, we aren’t going to leave you high and dry. SND is releasing a new Tweet and RT workflow that will streamline your posting to more than one Twitter account while still following the rules! More on that in the days to come. Keep Calm and Stay Tuned.

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Kim Wilson

Founder/President
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