It is a common problem: an innocuous-looking email which may not exactly be suitable for colleagues’ consumption, opened in haste with the boss hovering over one shoulder. And, without a ‘not safe for work’ (NSFW) mark, the same can all-too-often be true of the more questionable tweets.

Soon, though, twitter users may be able to give their sensitive followers fair warning, after the site allowed third party developers to create an NSFW flag in their apps.

The site announced the modifications to its API (Application programming interface) today and developers said they were “looking forward” to working on the new feature.

But they said they would like to see a different approach to potentially offensive content as that they have seen from the site over spam. One, said Twitter has “not been very effective [at] dealing” with the issue.

Hwee-Boon Yar, of Simply Tweet – developers of a successful smartphone app – said he will be “looking into adding” the feature but said Twitter’s approach to spam content had not been very “aggressive”, labelling that as a priority.

He added: “We still don’t know how accurately they will be able to mark content as sensitive. It looks like each tweet is either marked as containing a link with sensitive content or it is not.”

He also pointed out that differing cultural sensibilities would affect the way the feature was used, should it be introduced on a wide scale. He said: “A link [in a tweet] may contain content which offends me due to cultural or other reasons, but may be perfectly fine for another person. I wonder how that will work out.”

However, he called for Twitter to put its effort into “fighting spam, which, to me is a more serious problem for users”.

Twitter’s relationship with third party developers has been strained at times, as it tried to exert its influence over apps offering its service on non-desktop platforms, such as smartphones. Twitter has been known to be concerned about the way its site appears in third party apps, over which it has less control.

It recently acquired one of the most popular, Tweetdeck and this move could be interpreted as a rapprochement. Ryan Sarner, the company’s Director of Platform, stressed the importance of users experiencing the site “in a consistent way”, in a post published on the Twitter Development Talk forum in March of this year.

But, with a new Twitter app registered every 1.5 seconds, it seems that, developers still want to work with the company.

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