Shutting Down the Audience Section

Jan 31, 2019 3 min read

Twitter has been actively working towards controlling and reducing spam on its platform. From limiting follow/unfollow actions, forbidding post duplicity, proactively suspending spam accounts, and imposing limits subject to your account's follow-unfollow ratio, Twitter is continuously modifying its platform.
Back in 2015, Twitter raised the following limit from 2,000 to 5,000, while also making its algorithms smart enough to prevent bots from abusing the updated limits. As for Statusbrew, we were called 'Unfollowers' when we started in 2011. The primary focus being able to check Unfollowers. However, the social scene was changing, and we had to adapt too.

The Audience section has always been our flagship product. It gave users the ability to fine-tune their search and follow people that were relevant to their business.
We realised soon enough that our platform was being abused for mass follow/unfollow activities and this could be a red flag. We received a few emails from Twitter to remove specific functions which were acted upon sincerely to comply with the updated policies. We adapted to the changes as per the Twitter Policy, just enough to be compliant.

We were not too happy modifying one feature at a time, but that is what we did every time.

Again it happened on 28 September 2017. We received an email from Twitter:

"This is a policy violation notice from Twitter Platform Operations. An application registered to your Twitter account, Statusbrew, is currently violating the Developer Agreement and Policy, the Automation Rules, and enables end users to violate the Twitter Rules.
In an initial review of the app, we have found it in violation of the following policies:
Automated Welcome Tweets & DMs - unsolicited @mentions and DMs are prohibited by our Automation Rules
Fast (un)follow - following or unfollowing Twitter accounts in a bulk or indiscriminate manner is prohibited by the Automation Rules. Aggressive following is a violation of the Twitter Rules.
Copy followers / Copy following - following or unfollowing Twitter accounts in a bulk or indiscriminate manner is prohibited by the Automation Rules. Aggressive following is a violation of the Twitter Rules.

Twitter Platform Operations"

We removed these features to comply with the Twitter policy. Again, we didn't look deep into the product.
We submitted the app for a review, and it was back in compliance.
We went back thinking we fixed all our violations and ignored other rules that were in the grey areas.
Marginalised, and then Twitter normalised, and then again marginalised.
And this is our story.

Never did we go ahead and think of making changes significant enough to claim that we don't participate in spam or spam related activities.
By this time, we had discontinued all automation, automatic direct messaging and bulk growth actions. However, the platform was still being used to create spam on Twitter.
We wanted our users to be accountable for their actions. It was a mistake on our part.

Last night, we received a mail from Twitter:

This is a policy violation notice from Twitter API Policy. An application registered to your Twitter account - Statusbrew, has been found in violation of the Developer Agreement and Policy, Automation Rules, and the Twitter Rules. Specifically, your app facilitates bulk and aggressive follow behavior, such as "follow churn."

Honestly, Audience section is something we were not proud of, and we have built amazing tools for Social Media Marketing, Monitoring and Care. However, we didn't look into Audience, and that costs us our entire Twitter API access. Today, after eight years, we've decided to permanently shutdown the Audience section. So to make sure we don't repeat our mistake, we're also taking a proactive step forward to combat spam and will be reviewing every activity that can be misused for spam.

The road ahead:

Aligning with Twitter's vision.
Looking at how Twitter has evolved in the last two years, we see a great future; and it is an exciting time to build on top of the Twitter platform.
Twitter is a more conversational and interest-based platform. It is not incentivising likes and follows. It is not a popularity contest.

We want to make Twitter a place to encourage conversations and big ideas and we @Statusbrew are building tools that will support this vision.

All other Statusbrew features will be working as usual. Going forward, we are looking deep into our platform to fix issues and adapt our platform to the change.

I, Tushar, and everyone at Statusbrew are incredibly sorry to have been short-sighted and ignore the obvious. However, we're correcting our mistakes now and have bigger plans ahead.

We thank you for your patience and understanding.

Tushar Mahajan

CEO Statusbrew

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