We often get requests from users who want to know if we can run a script on their Twitter accounts that will go back in time and follow everyone that follows them, and unfollow everyone that does not follow them. In essence, sync-up their Friends with their Followers.
Here’s why we don’t offer that feature. It’s important to read this so that you don’t get your Twitter account into trouble.
I recently discovered that our @tweetlater account was in “restricted” status in the Twitter system. Everything appeared to be working normally on the account, except that its tweets were not being indexed by Twitter Search. I thought it was a bug in Twitter Search, and when I submitted an API support ticket, I was informed that it was because @tweetlater was in “restricted” status.
Until recently @tweetlater was not following anyone, except @spam. Folks were raising questions about why @tweetlater was not following anyone. So, I decided to run a sync script that simply took the list of existing followers, and followed everyone of them back. In other words, @tweetlater’s Friends count went from 1 to 6,000+ in a matter of 30 minutes or so. This was before Twitter implemented the “you can only follow 1,000 new people per day” rule.
At no time during that sync process did @tweetlater follow anyone that was not already a follower, and at no time did the Friends count exceed the Followers count.
And yet, this appeared to have flagged the @tweetlater account for “aggressive follow behavior”.
I might be wrong, but in my opinion this was a completely legitimate exercise and action on my @tweetlater account. Apparently the Twitter system did not think so.
The moral of this story is the following.
Think two or three times before you do any kind of sync or catch-up on your Twitter account. It’s more than likely to put your Twitter account in jeopardy.
I have been holding back on adding a sync feature to TweetLater because a few weeks ago I sent an email to Twitter asking whether it would cause trouble. The last thing I want to do is offer a feature that will get people’s Twitter accounts suspended.
I still have not received a reply to that email, but this issue with @tweetlater has basically confirmed my suspicions and vindicated my caution.
Update April 22 9:00 PM EST — This matter has now been resolved. I want to express my gratitude and thanks to the Twitter team. I am truly amazed at their responsiveness and helpfulness, despite the fact that their workload must warrant 48 hours in a day.