Twitter API and Email Addresses

One thing that appears to be a recurring theme on the Twitter API development mailing list and in the IRC channel of Freenode is the question of getting access to a users email address. I’ve always found this frustrating and have never seen a good reason why a users email address should be given out via any API method. The following list contains the reasons that are most often given when you ask why an email address is desired:

  1. I’d Like to Contact the users of my application:
See below.
  1. Auto-Notices & Spam:
Not a chance.

It really is that simple. If you need a users email address then provide a settings page and ask them to enter it. Don’t think you can systematically fetch it from the API because you can’t, more to the point: I don’t think you’ll ever be able to.

And that’s a good thing.