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Internet Security Threat Report 2014

Twitter has banned third-party ad networks from its micro-blogging service, less than six weeks after launching an ad platform of its own.

Dick Costolo, Twitter's chief operating officer, announced the change on Monday with a blog post, saying the company would soon update its API terms of service to make things official. "Third party ad networks are not necessarily looking to preserve the unique user experience Twitter has created. They may optimize for either market share or short-term revenue at the expense of the long-term health of the Twitter platform," the post reads.

"Secondly, the basis for building a lasting advertising network that benefits users should be innovation, not near-term monetization. Twitter is uniquely dependent on and responsible for the long-term health and value of the platform."

On April 19, the company unveiled what it calls a Promoted Tweets program, which will see tweets from ad partners pop to the top of certain Twitter search results. An advertiser pays according to the old CPM model, forking over dollars for every thousand people who see its ad, and when an advertiser is paying for impressions, the tweets are labeled as "promoted."

The new terms of service for the Twitter API are now live, and they add that third-parties must pay Twitter anytime tweets are tweeted as part of an ad sale. "In cases where Twitter content is the basis (in whole or in part) of the advertising sale, we require you to compensate us," the terms read.

The move is a mighty blow to services like Ad.ly and 140 Proof that were built to provide advertising on Twitter, but Costolo has urged third parties to find other ways of selling around the Twitter "timeline," its stream of 140-character mini-messages.

"Companies are selling real-time display ads or other kinds of mobile ads around the timelines on many Twitter clients, and we derive no explicit value from those ads," he says. "That’s fine. We imagine there will be all sorts of other third-party monetization engines that crop up in the vicinity of the timeline."

In defending the terms of service change, Costolo also said the change is a way of ensuring that Twitter can pay for itself. "It is important to keep in mind that Twitter bears all the costs of maintaining the network, protecting the Tweet stream against spam, supporting user requests, and scaling the service," he said.

"Indeed, Twitter will bear many of the support costs associated with any third-party paid Tweets, as Twitter receives support emails related to anything a user sees in a tweet stream. The third-party bears few of these costs by comparison." ®

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