The Day Twitter Became Unfriendly

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Remember those days when Twitter was the new, cool, kid on the block?  And then, remember when marketers found out that Twitter was fertile ground for their ads, and suddenly we started seeing promoted tweets?  Well, if you starting souring on Twitter back then, get ready for the social media giant’s next major change: Twitter wants you to just use Twitter.  Doesn’t sound all that bad, does it?  Just wait.  According to a blog posted by the Twitter dev team, changes to Twitter’s API coming to 1.1 will effectively shut down all third party Twitter applications and sites.  Check out this quote about the situation:

If your application already has more than 100,000 individual user tokens, you’ll be able to maintain and add new users to your application until you reach 200% of your current user token count (as of today) — as long as you comply with our Rules of the Road. Once you reach 200% of your current user token count, you’ll be able to maintain your application to serve your users, but you will not be able to add additional users without our permission.

So, to figure out what this means, let’s use my favorite Twitter app, Tweetbot, as an example.  If Tweetbot currently has 100,000 users today, it will only be able to grow until it reaches 200,000 users.  After that, the service may no longer give out “user tokens” meaning no new users can take part in the app.  The app can be maintained and updated, but cannot grow.  What Twitter has done is to cap all third parties, setting themselves up as the only source for the API in the future.

Why would Twitter do this?  It has to do with how you, the user, see your tweets.  Some services, like Favstar.fm, take the data of the tweet and mold it into their image, making it look considerably better than the Twitter website.  That will no longer by allowed.  Again, why?  Ad revenue.  Our favorite little blue bird of social media has fallen prey to a common problem that we all share: we like money.  If you filter out the ads and promoted tweets from Twitter, making it just about the users, then the ones who pay to tweet their wares go away.

So, enjoy Twitter while it lasts, folks….you may have just seen the beginning of the end.  And, if you’re one of the lucky ones who have gotten in on the ground floor of some great apps, be thankful.

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