Twitter Shutters @FAME For Violating “The Spirit” Of Its ToS Agreement

By April 13, 2012

Fame’s fifteen minutes of, well, fame are up. One of the most intriguing social experiments on Twitter will be selecting its last winner today after 19 days in operation. According to a tweet from the New York-based designers behind Fame, “Twitter has informed us that we are violating the spirit of their TOS.”

For those unfamiliar with the Fame game, it goes a little something like this. Fame is basically a daily raffle where one person wins Twitter fame for a day. Everyone playing the Fame game (e.g. anyone who connected their Twitter accounts to the app) automatically follows the winner for 24 hours, and when her/his time in the spotlight is up, everyone automatically unfollows the previous day’s winner and follows the next person.

Currently there are about 8200 people playing Fame, which was a little short of their goal of 21 million players. Why 21 million? Because that’s the number of followers Lady Gaga has, and Fame’s aim was to make its daily winner temporarily more famous than the pop star. And despite the fact that the Fame app automatically unfollows the previous day’s winner, many Fame players organically re-follow previous winners. For example: yesterday’s winner, @MichaelBykov, had just 31 followers before winning Fame, and now he has 6705. Some 81 percent of Fame players chose to follow Bykov.

For some unspecified reason, Twitter ordered Fame to cease operations on grounds that Fame violated its terms of service agreement. Which part of this heaping mass of legalese did Fame violate? Trick question: apparently Fame violated no specific part of the ToS, just its “spirit.”

People from Fame told The Verge that they believed the app didn’t violate Twitter’s terms:

This is one of the great tensions of the web era we are living in and increasingly so as the open web grows. We actually don’t violate any particular rule, it was simply an arbitrary decision that we aren’t aligned with the spirit of what they want.

Despite Fame’s insistence that Twitter’s decision was arbitrary, it appears that Fame may have violated some of the Twitter Rules, such as those against mass following and automation, which are in place to guard against spammers.

Many think Twitter’s interpretation of its own terms of service is a little rigid. Those rules and regulations are in place to protect against spammers, but Fame was never about spam. Its users participated willingly. The only negative aspect of Fame is that it could shake up Twitter users’ understanding of what it means to have a lot of followers.

Rest assured. Those of you wanting to be “internet famous” need only wait a little while. Fame is currently developing version 2.0 of its product, which will run on other social networks which give Fame and others “room to innovate”.

Representatives from Twitter declined to comment.