When did Twitter become one of the “mean girls?” (The part of the shunned outsider made famous by Lindsay Lohan will be played in this simile by Instagram)
This past week, Twitter shut off API access to Instagram (soon to become a property of Facebook) essentially disabling a popular feature which allowed Instagram users to find their Twitter friends on the photo network. On the heels of Twitter’s messy break-up with LinkedIn – this is another signal that Twitter is cracking down to channel users through their app, respective of the nominal threat that a network may pose.
In Twitter manager Michael Sippey’s now famous missive on the developer’s blog, he writes:
“These efforts highlight the increasing importance of us providing the core Twitter consumption experience through a consistent set of products and tools. Back in March of 2011, my colleague Ryan Sarver said that developers should not “build client apps that mimic or reproduce the mainstream Twitter consumer client experience.” That guidance continues to apply as much as ever today. Related to that, we’ve already begun to more thoroughly enforce our Developer Rules of the Road with partners, for example with branding, and in the coming weeks, we will be introducing stricter guidelines around how the Twitter API is used.”
So inferring from that post, Instagram must have posed a clear threat to Twitter’s mainstream client experience. I don’t see it. It just seems like a very opportunistic move to restrict more access to third party apps. Mike Isaac of AllThingsD (article linked above) argues that it may be a retaliatory gesture against Facebook for cutting their API off to Twitter. It’s more likely that Twitter would prefer your connections to Twitter friends remain on Twitter rather than Instagram. I doubt it’s any more complicated than that.
While a break between Twitter and Instagram isn’t a deal-breaker for most people – if Twitter keeps cutting off access to the their API I expect they’ll find a pain point that resonates. And I can’t help but wonder if Google Plus might be robust enough in its current incarnation to prove to be an alternative?