Twitter Changes "From" Display

Twitter implemented an API change on July 1st, 2009 so that all tweets originating via the API now have “from API” in the source display area of the Twitter timelines.

Previously the source area said “from web” when the originating application did not supply a source parameter when it publishes the tweet.

For the time being, TweetLater will continue to not provide a source parameter, which means your scheduled tweets will all have “from API” in the source display area.

We may evaluate this matter at a later date and decide if we should send a source parameter so that the tweets have “from TweetLater” in the source area.

Your feedback in the comments will be appreciated.

Update: Just want to clarify the following:

  1. This was a change that Twitter unilaterally implemented on their side.
  2. We cannot manipulate or change the source display. There are only two choices namely “from API” or “from TweetLater”. If we continue to not supply a source parameter, the tweets will continue to say “from API”.
  3. We cannot go back to “from web” because Twitter does not allow that. From July 1 the only tweets that say “from web” are those that were manually entered in the web interface of Twitter.com.
  4. It is not only TweetLater that is affected by this. The tweets from all third-party applications that don’t supply a source parameter now say “from API”.
  5. Chances are that we will leave it as is, i.e., as saying “from API” for TweetLater. Our service is fortunately large enough, popular enough, and receive sufficient word-of-mouth exposure that we have no need to use the source display as an advertisement for TweetLater.

Update: This comment from Ryan deserves highlighting here in the post body: “If you are providing your followers with something valuable they won’t care where the tweets are coming from.” So true, Ryan! When we change over to the OAuth authentication method of Twitter, we may not have a choice anymore in terms of the source label. Our understanding is that when an application uses OAuth, all tweets from that application are automatically labeled with the name of that application. We will be changing over to OAuth as soon as Twitter takes their OAuth authentication out of beta testing. To be clear, changing to OAuth is not optional for a Twitter application. Twitter is going to deprecate the username/password authentication method.

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71 thoughts on “Twitter Changes "From" Display

  1. juhalassila

    I trust you guys. Do what's best for all TweetLater and Twitter users. From API and From TweetLater may draw negative attention/connotation from Twitter (and from users), and what I'm afraid is that my accounts will get blocked more easily. Probably less click-through, as the users may feel that there is a professional spamming behind. Would it be possible to let us to define the name of the source? I'd choose “From outer space”, but of course this feature could be misused, too (“From Whitehouse”)What I'd like have is a parameter that I could set on/off:”Trust TweetLater to STFU” that is if I have set it on then as TweetLater analyzes the behavior that leads to blocking of an account, then you may silence my accounts that have similar patterns, or better, make them less aggressive.Anyways, I was just about to make the first payment. let's see what happens. Actually this is fun, although not all of us can understand Twitter. But what the heck, it's fun. Of course I wouldn't mind getting rich in the process, but that probably wouldn't be fun any more.

  2. Dewald Pretorius

    The value of the source cannot be controlled by the third-party application. If TweetLater supplies a source paramater, Twitter automatically adds “from TweetLater” to the tweet. The “from TweetLater” cannot be modified. So, tweets will either say “from API” or “from TweetLater” depending on whether we add a source parameter at tweet publishing time or not.

  3. Jodi

    I'd prefer they didn't say we used Tweetlater. I think it makes us look lazy! When in fact, we use this because we are so busy!

  4. Chris

    I would prefer “from API” over “from TweetLater”, but I would prefer “from web” most of all.

  5. Robert

    I agree with Jodi, I am so busy building no way would I have the time to tweet all my followers one on one :>(

  6. Michael

    As long as it does not take away from my 140 I could not care if it said from GOD in the source. Of course that is just my opinion :).

  7. MaryAnnN

    Observe and then go with what gets the most – wanted – attention. The object is to be read and have piqued the interest of the reader, to learn more….however this reaction happens, that is the best way to proceed.

  8. Bobby

    I think if you identify yourself, it will make it easy for Twitter to shut your service down. YOu need to find a way to program around this change

  9. Dewald Pretorius

    Mate, I clearly identify my application on every single API call to Twitter. So, make that a few million API calls per day where Twitter can already see they are coming from TweetLater.

  10. CrystalsQuest

    I'm torn on this one. On the one hand I would like people to think that I'm tirelessly finding things for them and going online to post them every half hour or so, but on the other hand I do believe in honesty – and it's a fair call that you guys should get the credit for providing the service. I guess I trust that in the long run, tweetlater might be as much of a brand as aweber – most people know they're getting an autoresponder series or a broadcast email, instead of being sent something one on one from the list author. So long as the content is good, most people understand that a degree of automation is necessary. What would be great is if someone clicking through on that “from tweetlater” was taken to a profile page in which we could put our reasoning to them, and say why we use the service. In my case, it would be because I don't like to spit out ten tweets at once, but space them out so I don't monopolise people's tweetstream while still giving them plenty of value. It also lets me keep track of what I've posted and yet to post. It would be a win-win, because you guys would then have a testimonial for every single user that created their profile page. If you gave those profile pages affiliate links to sign up, you'd have a built in incentive for people to come clean about the benefits they get from using you.@CrystalsQuest

  11. A.J. Wood

    I'm sure you'll do what you feel is best for your service & your customers. I've announced many times the publishing schedule I use with Tweetlater so I don't suspect I'd lose too many followers because of it. I find your service invaluable, and it's helped immensely in getting tweets out my followers want to see.

  12. Sharon Fullen

    I would prefer not to have from Tweetlater but I don't know what would work and still be honest. Perhaps something like “from the office of” which is honest. Needs to satisfied the experts and marketers.

  13. proson

    Hmm, If I would choose between from API and from Tweetlater, I would prefer the latter rather than from API. It sounds like you are using a robot or something…..

  14. Vince

    NO, Do not put “TweetLater” in the Source area. That would be a very bad idea & defeats the purpose of using such a Tool. The entire point is to give the “appearance” that you are at the computer Tweeting away. I for one would STOP using “Tweet Later” if it was identified/labled as such & not as an API. “From the web” was the best and you should go BACK to THAT!

  15. F. Andy Seidl

    I don't like from API, but that's better than from TweetLater. This API change would give a competitive advantage to clients like TweetDeck should they introduce a scheduled tweet feature since scheduled tweets would look just like live tweets from that client.

  16. Gary Bush

    I think “From API” is probably the best choice. My guess is that alot of average users a) don't care where the tweet comes from, and/or b) don't even know what an API is.”From TweetLater” is a little more self-explanatory to the average (non-techie) user. In other words, I think more people would figure out what “From TweetLater” means as opposed to what “From API” means. And some users could perceive tweeters using this service as being lazy/impersonal/spammers.However, I also believe that if you produce great content then your followers will not care how you deliver that content to them. It all boils down to delivering great content.

  17. Blake

    I think anything other than “from web” will negatively impact the value of this service. Half the benefit is how it allows the user to look like they're engaged in real time. “From API” and “from TweetLater” are about equally bad. It's really unfortunate because TweetLater users are likely to be viewed as spammy even when their content's indistinguishable from people who really hang out on tweetdeck all day.

  18. Jeff Staebell

    I just started using TweetLater and liked the “from Web”. I have Ignored or Blocked Followers with nothing but “From TwitterFeed” Tweets due to lack of engaging the community.My plan for TweetLater is to use it to keep my visibility throughout the day while popping in and out as time allows so I can continue to engage as it's the real reason I came to Twitter. Part of that engagement is letting people know how or what you think about things which is where TweetLater is really invaluable.So if it's going to go “From web” to “From API” then what's the difference with saying what it really is “From TweetLater”? For me the biggest thing I do when I vet is to see how much the person engages the community. As long as they are engaging I don't really care what other tools they use. As much as I'd love to sit at my PC and Tweet all day long, it's just not practical (although damn fun!!), so no one should be blamed for finding balance between automation and actual engagement.

  19. Jake McKee

    The entire point, and I mean the ENTIRE point of using Tweetlater for me is that it's disguised so that my business profile doesn't look “planned”. Sadly, this issue puts an IMMEDIATE halt on my Tweetlater usage. Very very sad. I love the service.

  20. Shawn Byfield

    Hmm… My concern is for my followers. Yes, email subscribers have become accustomed to auto-response email. In fact, many of us now expect an immediate response from major websites.But there's more of a real-time expectation on Twitter. “What are you doing right now” vs “What do you want people to believe you just did?” Showing “From TweetLater” will eventually change the perspective of followers, and could lead to a shift in the “right now” experience. I feel that “From API” sounds robot generated. We use Twitter to follow real people, and shouldn't have any reason to question the authenticity of the post.@ShawnByfield

  21. rainbowhill

    Both choices are honest, but “from TweetLater” provides more transparency. The decision to unfollow or block is always a personal one, and it is usually multi-factorial in nature. If you are concerned about what people think about you that much, maybe social media isn't for you. Be useful to your followers and they'll follow you for all the right reasons. My preference would be for “from TweetLater”, I hope my followers on the other side of the globe understand I have to sleep too.

  22. Jo Ann Hernandez

    I'm a major non techie so all this API stuff I don't understand. I do understand the implication of being connected with TweetLater. In fact, I've been thinking of posting a tweet on how much I love TweetLater and how useful I have found it for what I do. I would not want to be blocked or limited in any way so do your best to avoid that. I can't figure how people don't know that the tweets are being feed. I don't pay attention so there are probably others who understand this better than I that would follow and time when tweets came out. Please decide on what is best for the whole and yourself to continue your excellent service. Thank you for creating TweetLater and keeping the service going and outstanding. Thank you.

  23. CrystalsQuest

    Surely with the great coding you guys have, you could find a way to use the page referral data to autogenerate a link to “view @user's profile” on the landing page? Maybe you could also put the suggestion in to twitter that the landing page link should be allowed to pass the referrer's twitter account in future revisions? Even if they want permission given, it could be as simple as an extra tickbox when we claim the account.

  24. FranciscoIV

    If you still can't spoof from web (should be a matter of how you make the header record look?) then from API is fine as all that says is an external app is being used, and at this point there are hundreds of them accessing the API for all kinds of reasons.

  25. A.I.

    would not use this service if it said “from tweetlater”. that wld defeat the whole purpose of using it.

  26. Dave Lucas

    Why not change the name “tweetlater” to “tweetstream” or something that's not going to raise suspicion? I agree with a previous commenter: I use your service when I know already what I'll pretty much be doing at a specific time and know that I won't be able to pick up my cellphone and key in and send 140 characters. Like today. I have a plan and I have outlined it and timed it out on tweetlater. Not only do my people know what I'm doing, but I made myself a mental guideline by setting my day up on tweetlater.

  27. Viki

    Thank you for informing us of API Change. It doesn't matter to me if it says “from web” or “from API”.I understand the benefits of having “from TweetLater” but for my purposes, I'd rather it not say “from TweetLater”. Just my opinion!

  28. Mike C

    Is there a way to set it up to where there are 2 or more choices as to what it can say? What about a positive phrase like “adding value” or “building community” or “always positive inspiration” for API? Just trying to think outside the box. Bottom line: Tweetlater is invaluable ~ as it concerns me: to share the love of Christ/Gospel 24/7. Thank you so much for your application and what you do.

  29. Dewald Pretorius

    As noted in the update of the blog post, we have not and will not use the source display as a brand-building opportunity. TweetLater is large enough and popular enough that we have no need to do that.

  30. Kate Arnold

    I'm much happier with the reference to API than TweetLater, which just emphasizes the fact that I'm not present when the Tweet comes through. API is more innocuous, I think.

  31. janetedin

    Much prefer that it remain as APISomehow “from Tweetlater” creates an aura of impersonality – which is counter to the whole point of Social marketing – AARRGGH – Not unlike having the government make rules for how much air we can exhale!Thanks for asking for out opinion. Janetedin

  32. Paul Monaco

    For those of you that object to “From API” or potentially future “From Tweetlater” you can always set up a dedicated Ping.fm account in your TweetLater profile to forward your scheduled tweets which may be a bit more benign to the average follower. If I were to ever be “called to task” for using Tweetlater or accused of using a spammer tool I would highlight the TweetCockpit management aspects and anti-spam filter/follow features.

  33. CharlesSeymourJr

    You want to leave this as from API. Though you might quickly think about yourself and your own advertising by saying it's from TweetLater, WE don't want it identified as coming from TweetLater… why do we want to tell people we have programmed tweets? It does us NO good and may do us quite a bit of harm.So you are right to leave it as From API – the alternative may kill your service.Charles Seymour Jrhttp://twitter.com/UltimateWAHDads

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