Wednesday, October 14, 2015

To Twitter @Support

Dear Twitter @Support,

I am writing to obtain clarification about Twitter's terms of service for sending unsolicited directed tweets.

I am a political activist against the corrupting influence of money in politics.

There are two Presidential candidates, Bernie Sanders and Larry Lessig, who are strenuously endeavoring to press this matter with the American people and to bring about meaningful change.

This is ultimately a battle of people power versus money power.

In pursuing its agenda, the money power has access to great amounts of money that it deploys to buy expensive advertising campaigns, including TV and radio commercials, billboards, phone banks, and the U.S. mail, to put on elaborate entertainment events, and to obtain costly professional consultation and fundraising services to assist in the same.

These advertising campaigns make massive, unsolicited communications to voters. Voters can turn off their TV or radio, throw away mail unopened, and hang up the phone on a campaign caller, but they cannot stop the advertising and stop it from going to other voters.

On the other side, there are the vast majority of the people who don't have the financial resources that the money power has. These people are limited to inexpensive ways for participating in political campaigns, such as by going door to door, or setting up tables and handing out leaflets in public places, or parading in public places with signs.

With the advent of the Internet and social media, these people have a new, inexpensive way to participate in political campaigns.

The question I have for Twitter is the extent to which Twitter users are allowed to send unsolicited directed tweets.

Should users be prevented from sending unsolicited directed political tweets merely because some recipients object to the unsolicited tweets?

Keep in mind what happens with the advertising campaigns of the money power, such as TV ads and that viewers who find TV political ads objectionable can turn off their TV but they cannot stop the ads from airing and cannot prevent communication or attempted communication to other TV viewers.

I acknowledge the widespread abuses of the social media, and I condemn those abuses.

I also acknowledge that unsolicited political communications in any form can be extremely annoying and unweclome. They are, however, allowed as an important adjunct of our democracy.

Just as objections to TV political ads don't get translated into shutting off the ads, complaints about unsolicited tweets should not result in Twitter suspending user accounts.

As I understand, Twitter has a daily limit on the number of tweets a user can send, and, if that daily limit is exceeded, the user is prevented from sending further tweets for a few hours to get the user back under the limit.

That limit should also suffice concerning the sending of unsolicited directed tweets.

If Twitter thinks a lower daily limit should be applied to the sending of unsolicited directed tweets, Twitter should say what that limit is and should apply the same remedy as when the general daily limit is exceeded, i.e., the user is prevented from sending unsolicited directed tweets for a few hours to get the user back below the limit.

Thank you for your consideration of this matter. I very much hope Twitter will act in an accommodating way about this.

Update 11/2
Update 1/1/16 

Update 1/24/16

Update 2/12/16 

Addendum  2/14/16 to above letter
Twitter @Support: In my campaign efforts, I am sending tweets to people for a second time, and, in doing that, I am seeing that some have blocked me. For the reasons stated in my letter, I hope Twitter does not suspend my account because a few people choose to block me. I continue to await guidance from Twitter. Thank you.

Update 5/4/16

Update 2/8/17

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