Twitter re-takes control over third-party app developers

Twitter

In an attempt to regain control of its ecosystem, Twitter announced this weekend that third-party app developers should not produce new Twitter clients that replicate Twitter’s functionality, reports Mashable. The stern warning is certain to shake-up the growing community of companies that make a living off the micro-blogging site, and could have consequences for Twitter’s 200 million users.

According to an API announcement from Twitter platform chief Ryan Sarver, developers should not create any new apps “that mimic or reproduce the mainstream Twitter consumer client experience.” Clients like TweetDeck, Echofon, Twidroyd or UberTwitter will be allowed to continue to function, Sarver said. But those and other similar apps will be held to “higher standards” than before. Twitter will reject any new apps that violate these rules.

The reason for the new policy — or, at least, a clarification of policy — is to create a streamlined experience for Twitter users who are thrown-off by third-party apps that are “inconsistent” with the official Twitter experience.

“For example, people get confused by websites or clients that display tweets in a way that doesn’t follow our design guidelines,” says Sarver, “or when services put their own verbs on tweets instead of the ones used on Twitter…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.”

Sarver outlines the new rules for devs to create a “consistent user experience” as such:

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 tweet.

Third-party apps that do not step on Twitter’s toes will be allowed, Sarver said. Those include publisher tools, like Social Flow; social CRM clients, like HootSuite; and “value-added” apps, like Formspring, Foursquare, Instagram and Quora, which integrate Twitter into their service, but do not “mimic” its functionality.

According to Sarver, 90 percent of Twitter users already use official Twitter apps, so the policy changes shouldn’t affect most tweeters.

It’s unclear whether the tightening of control is a step towards Twitter’s plan for monetization,but that certainly seems like a possibility — especially with companies like Bill Gross’s UberMedia stepping on its heels.

Emerging Tech

Twitter is officially a teenager now. Are we raising a monster?

On March 21, 2006, Jack Dorsey sent the first ever tweet. Thirteen years later, Twitter has fundamentally changed the way we communicate. Here are some of the myriad ways it's done that.
Computing

Get ready to say goodbye to some IFTTT support in Gmail by March 31

If This Then That, the popular automation service, will drop some of its support for Gmail by March 31. The decision comes as a response to security concerns and is aimed to protect user data.
Computing

Sending SMS messages from your PC is easier than you might think

Texting is a fact of life, but what to do when you're in the middle of something on your laptop or just don't have your phone handy? Here's how to send a text message from a computer, whether you prefer to use an email client or Windows 10.
Social Media

Twitter is testing a handy subscription feature for following threads

Twitter has recently started testing a feature that lets you subscribe to a thread so that you’ll no longer need to like a comment or post to it yourself in order to receive notifications of new contributions.
Social Media

Facebook may soon let you watch live TV with friends in Watch Party

Facebook Watch Party is designed to allow friends to watch together, even when they can't be in the same physical space. Now, that feature could be expanding to include live TV. Facebook announced a test of the feature, starting with live…
Social Media

Federal investigation digs into Facebook’s data-sharing deals

Facebook confirmed it is cooperating with a federal criminal investigation. According to a report, the company is under investigation for sharing user data with smartphone and tablet companies.
Social Media

Facebook explains its worst outage as 3 million users head to Telegram

Facebook, if you didn't already know it, suffered a bit of an issue on Wednesday, March 13. An issue that took down not only its social networking site, but also Instagram, WhatsApp, and Messenger. On Thursday it offered an explanation.
Gaming

Snapchat could soon let you play games in between your selfies

If a new report is accurate, Snapchat will be getting an integrated gaming platform in April. The platform will feature mobile games form third-party developers, and one publisher is already signed on.
Social Media

Your Google+ public content will remain viewable on the web, if you want it to

Google's failed social network — Google+ — will soon be wiped from the internet, but there's a team of volunteers working right now to save its public content for the Internet Archive.
Computing

There’s more space on MySpace after ‘accidental’ wipe of 50 million songs

MySpace is no longer a safe refuge for music and media produced in the 2000s. It said that almost any artistic content uploaded to the site between 2003 and 2015 may have been lost as part of a server migration last year.
Computing

Intel and Facebook team up to give Cooper Lake an artificial intelligence boost

Intel's upcoming Cooper Lake microarchitecture will be getting a boost when it comes to artificial intelligence processes, thanks to a partnership with Facebook. The results are CPUs that are able to work faster.
Social Media

New Zealand attack shows that as A.I. filters get smarter, so do violators

The shootings in Christchurch, New Zealand were livestreamed to social media, and while stats show networks are improving at removing offending videos, as the system improves, so do the violators' workarounds.
Photography

Insta-checkout? New Instagram service lets you shop without leaving the platform

Shopping on Instagram no longer means leaving the platform to checkout in a web browser. Instagram checkout launched in beta today with a handful of retailers, allowing users to checkout without leaving the app.
Web

Switch up your Reddit routine with these interesting, inspiring, and zany subs

So you've just joined the wonderful world of Reddit and want to explore it. But with so many subreddits to choose from, exploring them can be overwhelming. Here are some of the best subreddits to get you started.