Twitter keeps it simple, even when it comes to updating the legalese in its terms of service. A computer hacker who was once a federal informant and was a driving force behind one of the largest cases of identity theft in US history pleaded guilty in a deal with prosecutors that will send him to prison for up to 25 years.

As part of the changes, Twitter translated some of the jargon into plain language, to lessen the chances that its users might get the wrong idea about what was happening.

In particular, Twitter wanted to leave no doubt that the short messages that people post on their profiles will always be their own, even though the San Francisco-based company eventually may try to profit from the "tweets" by allowing ads on the service.

"What's yours is yours - you own your content," Twitter wrote in a coloured capsule that stood out from the rest of the surrounding text.

It seems Twitter wanted to avoid the kind of uproar that rattled Facebook this year after the popular networking site included some murky wording in its revised terms of service.

The clumsy language left the impression that Facebook might claim ownership of the words and photos posted on its website. That triggered a revolt prompting the company to take down the offending terms and let its users vote on the website's policies.

While the tens of millions using Twitter as a communications tool apparently don't have to worry about losing control of their tweets, they may have to get used to seeing ads amid all the chatter.

Twitter has kept marketing out of the mix so far, but the new terms of service signalled that may change as the 3-year-old company explores ways to bring some revenue into a business that has been subsisting on its investors' money.

"We're leaving the door open for exploration in this area but we don't have anything to announce," Twitter wrote in another coloured capsule on its revised terms.