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API No Go. Twitter Makes The Right Move.

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Third Party Apps Be Gone.

LinkedIn, Tumblr, Instagram are likely to be the first of many to be cut off from some aspects of Twitter’s API. There will be more, and contrary to what many are saying it’s a good thing too.

Twitter has decided that in order to become financially more responsible it has to stop being part a wider social media ecosystem and forge a path as a distinct ecosystem in itself.

This may be the beginning of a wider trend. After a few years of open streams and cross platform sharing we may be entering a phase where each platform has its own distinct group of users. You can be a part of as many as you want, but they’ll no longer be connected to all via one.

This is what is generally known as competition. And in the media marketplace, competition is good – unless you’re a third-party app developer looking to cash in on free content that’s no longer going to be quite so free.

When the platforms established ground rules for colonizing the internet, they formed what essentially became a cartel enabling each to connect to the others so that could more successfully colonize every known web page in the universe. Those days are over. The job is done. Every page has share buttons for every platform, which leaves the platforms in a bind. What makes one distinct from the other other than a few key quirks ( like the 140 character rule), branding elements and UX gizmos.

The answer is how they make money.

Facebook has been the most efficient of the colonizers. It’s “like” functionality feeds right into its money-making potential by making its advertising that much more efficient. Google is catching up fast with “+1” which feeds right into their search and advertising dominance. The irony is that Facebook and Twitter can live on the same planet when it comes to colonizing the Internet.  But there’s one player that can’t.

Twitter. Twitter is different. Twitter is an anomaly.

What does tweeting a page link do for them? Nothing at all. It just clogs up the stream so people leave Twitter and don’t click on sponsored tweets or other money-making ventures. If you’re Twitter, this is not good, so you need to make sure you can separate and define yourself, to make people stay on your platform and click on your crap. Which accounts for the new-found muscularity of the company as it makes its play for more control.

One can understand how upset developers are that Twitter is putting up walls after so cleverly leaving them down for so long to attract users. Just about every aspect of the company’s success was created by users, from the hashtag to the retweet downwards. And how does the company reward its users.

By making them use Twitter’s own free functionality to Tweet. Not a big deal.

It’s a little nefarious, but nowhere near as seedy as any of Facebook’s shenanigans, and in order for Twitter to survive, and maybe even thrive, it has to move down this line. The truth is, that social media companies have to sucker us into helping them grow. They have to rely on our narcissistic, competitive urges to make money. And the developers who have earned a pretty penny working on third-party apps shouldn’t feel too bad. After all, this is just another form of creative destruction, and they’re sure to be in favor of that.

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Written by coolrebel

August 23, 2012 at 2:08 pm

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