Twitter: Please Stop Spitting the Dummy

Of all the social networks, Twitter is my favourite. I like the pace, the opportunities and I like the openness to listen, see, network, collaborate, laugh and learn. It seems, however, that lately Twitter keeps spitting the dummy and not playing nice with others.

Instagram

Twitter have something called Twitter Cards: a way to attach images/media to tweets that link to your content. For example, you share your Instagram photo and, bingo, your Instagram picture is displayed in full when people click your tweet. Well, that was the case…

Recently, Instagram (owned by Facebook, remember), have made moves to stop Twitter displaying their photographs in full, which diminishes the Twitter experience somewhat. People like to share on Twitter and though Instagram argue that they want people to view pictures on the new Instagram web platform, this is still a disruption.

Instagram’s chief executive Kevin Systrom has said that Instagram “will always be integrated with Twitter in a way that you can tweet out from Instagram to Twitter… really it’s about where do you go to consume that image, to interact with that image. We want that to be on Instagram. What we realized over time is we really needed to have an awesome web presence.”

Nothing to do with Twitter stopping Instagram users finding Twitter followers to connect with on there? Apparently not. Systrom went on to say, ‘the press has a history of painting things this way. We have a really good relationship with Twitter.”

Google

Remember when tweets used to appear in Google searches? That ended in July last year (and was around since October 2009). Why it stopped is very vague: Twitter said they “provided Google with the stream of public tweets for incorporation into their real-time search product and other uses. That agreement has now expired.” Google echoed a similarly blunt statement, offering fact but not reason.

Third Party Twitter Apps

The real kick from Twitter came in August of this year, when they announced changes with the way third party services interacted with them, and not for the better. It was, after all, services like TweetBot, Echofon, IFTTT and HootSuite that really made Twitter accessible and useful. They made it make sense. Tools like TweetEffect, helped us understand user behaviour and follow/unfollow trends. In short, Twitter seemingly undermined the usefulness of all these third party apps by severely reducing how much interactivity they had with Twitter’s database.

TweetEffect is dead and inoperable. The amazing ways you could automate processes using IFTTT were made redundant overnight. For example, I was once able to add anybody tweeting the #lancashirehour hashtag to my public #lancashirehour list. And TweetBot, who were in the midst of developing and improving their already robust and fantastic app, had to stop Beta testing so they didn’t hit their limit of how much they were able to use Twitter’s API. And the might of Windows 8 didn’t stop Twitter’s cull: Tweetro as an app that became a very popular Twitter app for the new operating system soon hit their limit and alas, was pulled from the store.

So it would appear that Twitter are trying to regain control of Twitter both in and out of the twitter.com environment. To be fair, they did warn and discourage third party developers back in March 2011 from developing new Twitter-reliant products. Or rather, they want to stop apps from behaving like Twitter but welcome bringing your data into Twitter.

Either way, for users and developers alike, Twitter’s openness is seemingly becoming more closed each week as they battle to regain control. The problem is, they’re chipping away at what made it work so effectively in the first place.

So please, Twitter: stop spitting the dummy.

Article by Tom Stables

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