In just six years micro-blogging website Twitter has seen its members grow to 200 million. It has become hugely popular and given ‘tweets’ as a noun to the English language.
Now they are introducing strict new rules designed to keep more traffic to themselves. Outside firms who exploited Twitter data to create new applications are now unable to do that.
LinkedIn has already become a victim to this new, harder face. Facebook’s smartphone app Instagram and Tumblr have also fallen foul of the regime. These sites cannot permit access to features which allowed their own members to hook up quickly with their Twitter contacts.
The New Aggressive Style
In complete contrast with the previous liberal, sharing around of data, Twitter is now being compared with Apple or Google and is stirring up the tweeting community big time. Protests and howls of rage, satire and anger are the order of the day.
It all seems to be about revenue (of course). Large services now can only add value to Twitter not derive value from it, according to web critics, including Marco Arment, web developer.
Even small-scale developers are finding it hard to let users interact with their products and services. Outside applications that display tweets may hold no more than 100,000 users or compete with Twitter’s own software.
Put another way, this new rule controls how and where tweets are streamed. Any app developer working for other sites must recode to match the Twitter style and no new app can sell to over 100,000 users, or Twitter ‘gets involved’.
Dustin Curtis of blogging network Sybtle told the Daily Telegraph that the solution Twitter have adopted involves ‘barricading the walled garden, keeping the valuable tweet data inside Twitter….’
Wired magazine damned it as likely to spell the end of third-party clients, while Christopher Williams in his Telegraph expose called it Twitter getting ‘rough’ and ‘playing hardball’ over their site content.
We all know how valuable data is. Twitter now wants to stop all outsiders using it to sell advertising. That is the ultimately bottom line. Just how much will Twitter realistically make now?
And who owns social media content anyway? We’re back to that perennial unanswered question.
Twitter May Not Be As Big As It Says
It has been revealed that fake Twitter accounts are freely available to celebs and politicos anxious to boost their apparent levels of followers. Former MP Louise Mensch is alleged to have 40,000 fake followers.
Followers for sale are freely available on the web. Fiverr offers 1000 followers for $5. A beginners’ pack of 500 followers is apparently on sale from Followerstwitter.co,uk at just £13, with a bulk bargain of 200,000 for under £80.
Now London based StatusPeople has issued a fake-spotting program called Fake Follower Check. They suggest that almost three quarters of high profile people like David Cameron, Barack Obama (half of his 19 million followers), Stephen Fry and Lady Gaga were actually fake or ‘inactive’.
They are at pains to point out that the celebs themselves may not be aware they have so many fakes, and that an inactive account may be perfectly genuine but it is from a user who consumes information rather than shares it.
But the fact that such widespread fakery is commonplace, must surely take at least a little of the shine off the integrity of the Twitter-glitter concept?
Yahoo News, Bianca Consunji, New Twitter Rules Spur Online Protests, 18 August 2012
The Daily Telegraph, Christopher Williams, Twitter gets rough as it seeks profit, 27 August 2012
The Oval, David Jackson, Obama has millions of fake Twitter followers, 24 August 2012
Image: Pete Souza