This article was published on August 31, 2012

Twitter’s spam filters break Twisst, halt unofficial International Space Station updates [Updated]

Twitter’s spam filters break Twisst, halt unofficial International Space Station updates [Updated]

Twitter has (inadvertently?) killed another useful service: Twisst. The clever tool sends you a message on Twitter when the International Space Station (ISS) will be visible at whatever location you have in your Twitter bio. Unfortunately, Twitter isn’t having any more of that.

Earlier today, Twitter rendered Twisst useless:


This is really unfortunate. Twisst is a great example of third-party developers using Twitter in an innovative way. It’s something the social network’s employees probably never imagined, but the flexibility of the service allowed for its creation.

So, what’s happening here? The fight against spam is being blamed:


The Twisst community is understandably enraged, and Twitter has yet to say anything publicly. At the time of writing, the company has had nine hours to contact Jaap Meijers, who is already considering alternatives:


Unfortunately, it’s not clear if Twitter is aware of what it has done and is purposefully staying silent, or if this is an automatic spam filter that is doing more harm than good. Either way, Meijers isn’t pleased:



In theory, since is geared at users and developers, Meijers may have a better time developing Twisst. Unfortunately, it’s not that simple: Twitter is massive and Twitter is free. Few people are going to pay $50 to get updates about the ISS.

I have contacted Twitter about this issue. I will update you if and when I hear back.

Update on August 31: While Twitter didn’t get back to me, the company did contact Twisst today. Here’s what the account just tweeted:

We still don’t know why this is suddenly a problem, as it apparently wasn’t before:

The good news is that Meijers appears to be in high spirits after Twitter’s email:

I have contacted Twitter again for a statement and will update you if I hear back.

Update on September 4: Twitter fixes Twisst after breaking it, brings back unofficial International Space Station updates

See also:
Twitter no longer displays what client a tweet was posted with on web, emphasizing first-party apps
The Next Web is now on So, how should we use our account?

Image credit: stock.xchng