Twitter declares war on third-party apps

Summary:Why did Twitter cut off access to three applications from the same company? Something smells fishy here.

Twitter surprised me today. They surprised a lot of people, actually. With no warning, they banned three popular applications from accessing the Twitter service: Twidroyd, UberTwitter and UberCurrent.

According to support, the two apps were banned for policy violations. But they don't detail what these violations were. All three applications are owned by parent company UberMedia, Inc.

At this point it is too early to say if this is the beginning of a deliberate attempt to block all non-official clients in favor of Twitter's own software, or if this is actually a policy violation stemming from the software coming from one company.

It could be a coincidence. But to cut off popular applications used by hundreds of thousands of people with no warning at all, or by not giving the developer an opportunity to fix the issues, sets off my smell alarm. Something stinks about this.

UberMedia is also in the process of negotiating the buyout of TweetDeck, arguably the most popular Twitter client in the world. If Twitter blocked TweetDeck, it would be disastrous--and a huge mistake on Twitter's part.

Update:

Twitter has contacted TechCrunch with an explanation of why the applications were banned:

Today we suspended several applications, including UberTwitter, twidroyd and UberCurrent, which have violated Twitter policies and trademarks in a variety of ways. These violations include, but aren’t limited to, a privacy issue with private Direct Messages longer than 140 characters, trademark infringement, and changing the content of users’ Tweets in order to make money.

I will admit that this makes sense, but to block all three apps--written by different programmers--at the same time still seems suspect. These can't be new features that suddenly appeared. Why then block all three apps without warning instead of contacting the developer? It certainly took UberMedia by surprise. They have promised to make the appropriate changes.

Update 2:

An updated statement from Bill Gross, CEO of UberMedia. Now Twitter wants them to change the name of UberTwitter; the new name will be UberSocial. Reminds me of when they forced LevelUp Studio to change the name of their app from Touiteur to Plume.

Update 3:

UberMedia has updated their applications according to the requirements specified by Twitter, and they are now able to access the service again.

Topics: IT Employment, CXO, Social Enterprise

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