Twitter says this new app for for copying others’ timelines violates its rules — but it may live on


If you’ve ever wanted to know what someone else’s Twitter timeline is like, you’d have to replicate their ‘following’ list, one user at a time. In the past couple of weeks, Vicariously, a service built by entrepreneur Jake Harding, is helping people with that task automatically.

As TechCrunch reported earlier today, Twitter said that the bot is violating its automation rules, but the company has reached out to developers to find a way:

We love that Vicariously uses Lists to help people find new accounts to follow and get new perspectives. However, the way the app is currently doing this is in violation of Twitter’s automation rules, We’ve reached out to them to find a way to bring the app into compliance with our rules.

Twitter‘s rules forbid anyone from automatically adding users to a list in bulk. Harding says that he’s talking to the social network’s developer relation team to prevent abuse of the bot.

Vicariously’s idea and the procedure is simple: you log in to Vicariously and enter someone’s Twitter handle to replicate their follows into a fresh list that’s added to your account. What’s more, you can create lists that are unions, differentiation, and the intersection between two users’ follows. You’ll have to pay a minimal subscription fee of $2 per month to keep using the site’s features after the first free list.

For now, Vicariously has added a privacy setting to prevent anyone from creating lists based on you follows. However, to enable it, you will need to log in to the website once. That is counter-intuitive and Twitter should provide an option in privacy settings to prevent someone from adding you to public lists.

Twitter rolled out an inbuilt feature to see someone else’s timeline in 2011. However, it was discontinued later. I’m keen on seeing this feature make a comeback, but with better privacy controls built-in.

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