Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Attention Developers: Twitter says “No More Twitter clients!”

We already saw Twitter spokesperson come out on YouTube telling us not to complain because “we own you b*tch.” It’s no surprise to us that Twitter has been keeping a closer eye at third party Twitter clients, making sure they don’t violate any terms of use. We saw UberTwitter go down for a weekend along with Android Twitter app Twidroyd. UberTwitter was around for so long, and Twitter finally put their foot down letting them know what wasn’t allowed in their application. Surely UberMedia hopped on the matter quick, and relaunched as UberSocial.

Now back to Twitter’s statement – they don’t want any of you developers to make any more Twitter clients! You can read the full note after the jump, which suggest that they aren’t too thrilled with the wide variety of Twitter applications out there. Any developers who already have Twitter applications out now will remain, but Twitter will of course keep a close eye on them to make sure they meet appropriate standards. And the reason for all this? Twitter wants to make sure that all Twitter users receive the same good experience and don’t get tossed off due to a sloppy third party app or things of that nature. I guess Twitter wants to become the standard app that everyone uses, whether it be on desktop or mobile. Continue reading for the full note from Twitter.

Hey all, I’d like to give you an update about the state of the Twitter
Platform and hopefully provide some much requested guidance.

Since this time last year, Twitter use has skyrocketed. We’ve grown from 48
million to 140 million tweets a day and we’re registering new accounts at an
all-time record. This massive base of users, publishers, and businesses is
a giant playground for developers to build their own businesses on, and this
means the opportunity has grown for everyone.

With more people joining Twitter and accessing the service in multiple ways,
a consistent user experience is more crucial than ever. As we talked about
last April, this was our motivation for buying Tweetie and developing our
own official iPhone app. It is the reason why we have developed official
apps for the Mac, iPad, Android and Windows Phone, and worked with RIM on
their Twitter for Blackberry app. As a result, the top five ways that people
access Twitter are official Twitter apps.

Still, our user research shows that consumers continue to be confused by the
different ways that a fractured landscape of third-party Twitter clients
display tweets and let users interact with core Twitter functions. For
example, people get confused by websites or clients that display tweets in a
way that doesn’t follow our design guidelines, or when services put their
own verbs on tweets instead of the ones used on Twitter. Similarly, a
number of third-party consumer clients use their own versions of suggested
users, trends, and other data streams, confusing users in our network even
more. Users should be able to view, retweet, and reply to @nytimes’ tweets
the same way; see the same profile information about @whitehouse; and be
able to join in the discussion around the same trending topics as everyone
else across Twitter.

*A Consistent User Experience*
Twitter is a network, and its network effects are driven by users seeing and
contributing to the network’s conversations. We need to ensure users can
interact with Twitter the same way everywhere. Specifically:
- *The mainstream consumer client experience*. Twitter will provide the
primary mainstream consumer client experience on phones, computers, and
other devices by which millions of people access Twitter content (tweets,
trends, profiles, etc.), and send tweets. If there are too many ways to use
Twitter that are inconsistent with one another, we risk diffusing the user
experience. In addition, a number of client applications have repeatedly
violated Twitter’s Terms of Service, including our user privacy policy.
This demonstrates the risks associated with outsourcing the Twitter user
experience to third parties. Twitter has to revoke literally hundreds of
API tokens / apps a week as part of our trust and safety efforts, in order
to protect the user experience on our platform.
- *Display of tweets in 3rd-party services*. We need to ensure that tweets,
and tweet actions, are rendered in a consistent way so that people have the
same experience with tweets no matter where they are. For example, some
developers display “comment”, “like”, or other terms with tweets instead of
“follow, favorite, retweet, reply” – thus changing the core functions of a

With this in mind, we’ve updated our Terms of Service:

*The Opportunity for Developers*
Developers have told us that they’d like more guidance from us about the
best opportunities to build on Twitter. More specifically, developers ask
us if they should build client apps that mimic or reproduce the mainstream
Twitter consumer client experience. The answer is no.

If you are an existing developer of client apps, you can continue to serve
your user base, but we will be holding you to high standards to ensure you
do not violate users’ privacy, that you provide consistency in the user
experience, and that you rigorously adhere to all areas of our Terms of
Service. We have spoken with the major client applications in the Twitter
ecosystem about these needs on an ongoing basis, and will continue to ensure
a high bar is maintained.

As we point out above, we need to move to a less fragmented world, where
every user can experience Twitter in a consistent way. This is already
happening organically – the number and market share of consumer client apps
that are not owned or operated by Twitter has been shrinking. According to
our data, 90% of active Twitter users use official Twitter apps on a monthly

In contrast, the number of successful applications and companies in the
Twitter ecosystem that focus on areas outside of the mainstream consumer
client experience has grown quickly, and this is a trend we want to continue
to support and help grow. Twitter will always be a platform on which a
smart developer with a great idea and some cool technology can build a great
company of his or her own. And, with record user growth, there has never
been a better time to build into Twitter.

Some key areas where ecosystem developers are thriving:
- *Publisher tools*. Companies such as
SocialFlowhelp publishers optimize how
they use Twitter, leading to increased user
engagement and the production of the right tweet at the right time.
- *Curation*. Mass Relevance and
Suliaprovide services for large media brands to
select, display, and stream the
most interesting and relevant tweets for a breaking news story, topic or
- *Realtime data signals*. Hundreds of companies use real-time Twitter
data as an input into ranking, ad targeting, or other aspects of enhancing
their own core products. Klout is an example of a
company which has taken this to the next level by using Twitter data to
generate reputation scores for individuals. Similarly,
Gnipsyndicates Twitter data for licensing by third
parties who want to use our
real-time corpus for numerous applications (everything from hedge funds to
ranking scores).
- *Social CRM, entreprise clients, and brand insights*. Companies such as
HootSuite , CoTweet ,
Seesmic , and Crimson
Hexagonhelp brands, enterprises, and
media companies tap into the zeitgeist about
their brands on Twitter, and manage relationships with their consumers using
Twitter as a medium for interaction.
- *Value-added content and vertical experiences*. Emerging services like
Formspring , Foursquare ,
Instagram , and Quora have built
into Twitter by allowing users to share unique and valuable content to their
followers, while, in exchange, the services get broader reach, user
acquisition, and traffic.

A lot of Twitter’s success is attributable to a diverse ecosystem of more
than 750,000 registered apps. We will continue to support this innovation.
We are excited to be working with our developer community to create a
consistent and innovative experience for the many millions of users who have
come to depend on Twitter every day.

As always, we welcome your feedback and questions.

Source: PhoneScoop, Google Groups


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