Is the Twitter @ message really a 1:1 conversation? Twitter says no

The Background

In reviewing GraphEdge for EverythingTwitter, I read a recent blog entry from their founder about a limit they hit on Twitter and the response received from Twitter when the subject was broached.

The crux of the issue was on the number of messages an account can send daily.  I went searching for this magic number and found it via Webtrepeneur in this article.  Only 1,000 total updates and 250 direct messages per day on any and all devices are allowed per account.

So the service that is being provided by GraphEdge wanted to send @ messages to customers instead of using their email addresses.  Since the service itself is based on Twitter, why not use Twitter.  They broke the limit and added another account to continue sending when the first reached it’s limit.  Twitter suspended that account.

The Issue

Now here comes the confusion.  Responses from Twitter said that @ messages were meant to be public only, not a conversation.  I think I am torn in this thought process.  A direct message is meant to be a private conversation.  The @ message is meant to be a public conversation.  Picture it much like you are in a room sitting in a circle.  I look across and talk to someone direct, but everyone can hear, follow and interact if they wish.  Then I go whisper in someones ear in the circle, closing the public facet, while still in the same community.

Both are modes of conversation in their own right and should be treated as such.  I understand the theoretical limit Twitter imposes to protect someone from just blasting tweets all day long.  You wouldn’t expect someone to do this in a room, you would ask them to stop and then quietly remove them.  Twitter could do this by slowing an account down and then silencing it for some period of time after the infraction grows.  Break the rule too many times, then you get suspended.  There is justified services that users may opt in to receive @ messages to get updates.

Some of you are thinking, what about the whitelist or firehose Twitter offers?  Those are consumption and application calls, not communication calls like @ and direct message types.  So the limits still stand for sending specific types of messages into the system.  I think there needs to be some balance between authorized and verified applications that require the user to sign in via oAuth and receive a source parameter (sent from “[MyApp]” in your tweet).

The Opinion

Any type of action in sending a message on Twitter that occurs is considered communication.  Whether it is a public statement, an @ symbol or a direct message.  Limiting how much I talk (when it is not subject to spam) should not be controlled by automated systems.  A mute, ignore or other ability could be included to let my followers decide when I talk too much.

The idea is to have a giant room of your followers and let them come by an engage when they feel necessary no matter how often I stand on a box, talk to a person so it can be overheard or drag someone to a corner and whisper in their ear.