Twitter declares war on third-party apps

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.

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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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20 comments
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  • RE: Twitter declares war on third-party apps

    TwiDroid tweeted about 3:30pm eastern time that they will have an update on the market very shortly to fix the offending part of the app.

    I, too, think something fishy is going on. TwiDroid does everything I could ever need (as far as I know) with Twitter from my Droid. Twitter for Android is so basic as to be laughable vs. TwiDroid.

    Jealousy, maybe?
    babyboomer57
  • F Twitter

    The service is stupid and why anyone would use it or care about it is beyond me.
    itguy08
  • RE: Twitter declares war on third-party apps

    Twitter is the worst thing that has happened to humanity in years. It encourages poor grammar and sentence structure, and offers no value to users whatsoever. Hope it folds.
    Droid101
    • RE: Twitter declares war on third-party apps

      @Droid101
      I'm a Twitter user, yet my grammar and sentence structure is fine.
      ZackCDLVI
      • RE: Twitter declares war on third-party apps

        @Zc456
        You are definitely the sole exception then.
        Valis666
  • RE: Twitter declares war on third-party apps

    Twitter sucks and had sucked before this. Slow news day?
    nicholas22
  • How is this a war on 3rd party apps?

    It's just one company with its 3 apps.
    Tech watcher
    • RE: Twitter declares war on third-party apps

      @Tech watcher

      The notice that Twitter posted stated that it shuts down HUNDREDS of apps every day. They made a big deal out of this one since the company's apps are fairly popular.

      @Droid101 - if you are so concerned about the language people use on Twitter, maybe you should go to the local high school gym during a basketball game and listen to them talk. Not only can I not understand half of what they say, I can't determine what they even mean. At least on Twitter I can usually make out the abbreviations. When you only have a small number of characters allowed for you tweet, you have to pack a lot of info into that small amount of space - consequently the abbreviations.
      babyboomer57
      • RE: Twitter declares war on third-party apps

        A site as big as Twitter is expected to filter and block 100s of 3rd-party app submissions every day. This still isn't a war to me.
        Tech watcher
  • RE: Twitter declares war on third-party apps

    All three are owned by the same company, maybe they are repackaging user tweets to contain advertising based on user data which may make use of an inappropriate invasion of user privacy.
    alsobannedfromzdnet
  • RE: Twitter declares war on third-party apps

    Where are the calls for anti-competitive behavior? I have not seen one person asking for the DOJ to go after Twitter for this infringement on the people?s entitlement to use non twitter apps...
    Rick_K
    • RE: Twitter declares war on third-party apps

      @Rick_K As more details come out, it's hard to tell who is in the wrong here. It could very well be both parties. UberMedia claims this was a total surprise, and Twitter claims that they've been in contact with UM about policy violations since last April. It will take some time before all this shakes out.
      Scott Raymond
      • RE: Twitter declares war on third-party apps

        @Scott Raymond
        I bet if you used the word Apple, people would all be in a huff, screaming that it is anticompetitive. Now we have a situation that a company block competing products and no one is screaming for Twitter to be investigated.
        Rick_K
  • Twitter needs all the help it can get

    Let the twits have their apps.
    bobiroc
  • Journalistic style

    Scott, you explicitly write:

    "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."

    Then titling your two cents as "OMG! IT IS NUMBER 1! TWITTER DECLARES WAR ON THIRD PARTY APPS!" is sensationalist at best.
    h-fate
    • RE: Twitter declares war on third-party apps

      @h-fate@... It had the desired effect. Titling it "Twitter did some stuff" doesn't have much pizzazz.
      Scott Raymond
      • RE: Twitter declares war on third-party apps

        @Scott Raymond

        Troll. Bait. Troll. Bait. Trollll.
        madfry
      • RE: Twitter declares war on third-party apps

        @madfry

        And you fell for it. lol. lol. and more lol.
        LTV10
  • RE: Twitter declares war on third-party apps

    Blocking it on Friday afternoon before a holiday (in the US) weekend does smell fishy.
    dougsyo
    • RE: Twitter declares war on third-party apps

      @dougsyo@... Yeah, that's a common tactic used by many companies. It's typically punitive trouble make sure the recipient gets the message. Kudos to UberMedia for getting it fixed on a Sunday during a bank holiday weekend.
      Scott Raymond