Twitter released new Terms of Service for third-party developers restricting them from building new client apps for the platform and causing uproar in the developer ranks.
a controversial move, Twitter
updated its Terms of Service with third-party developers, essentially
calling for them to stop building new clients and asserting that Twitter will
hold them to a higher standard.
a March 11 statement, Ryan
Sarver, director of platform at Twitter, announced the company's new
developer terms, citing the need for a more "consistent user experience."
Sarver added that this was Twitter's motivation for acquiring Tweetie-the
Twitter client for Mac-and for Twitter developing its own official iPhone app as
well as official apps for the Mac, iPad, Android and Windows Phone, and why it worked
with Research In Motion on its Twitter for BlackBerry app. "As a result,
the top five ways that people access Twitter are official Twitter apps,"
developers argue that it has been third-party developers who have helped make
Twitter so successful. In his statement, Sarver notes that Twitter has grown
from 48 million tweets a day at this time last year to more than 140 million
tweets a day today.
user research shows that consumers continue to be confused by the different
ways that a fractured landscape of third-party Twitter clients display tweets
and let users interact with core Twitter functions," Sarver said
that in mind, Twitter moved to provide developers with some guidance in the
form of an update to its Terms of Service.
have told us that they'd like more guidance from us about the best
opportunities to build on Twitter," Sarver said. "More specifically,
developers ask us if they should build client apps that mimic or reproduce the mainstream
Twitter consumer client experience. The answer is no."
Sarver added: "If you are an existing developer of client apps, you can
continue to serve your user base, but we will be holding you to high standards
to ensure you do not violate users' privacy, that you provide consistency in
the user experience, and that you rigorously adhere to all areas of our Terms
of Service. We have spoken with the major client applications in the Twitter
ecosystem about these needs on an ongoing basis, and will continue to ensure a
high bar is maintained."
Twitter suggests that "ecosystem developers" focus on other areas
such as publisher tools, curation of content, real-time data signals, social CRM,
and value-added content and vertical experiences.
said the new moves are all about consistency and the need to limit and control
fragmentation. "Twitter is a network, and its network effects are driven
by users seeing and contributing to the network's conversations," he
said. "We need to ensure users can interact with Twitter the same way
reaction was swift. In response to Sarver's statement, one responder identified
as Eric Mill said: "I'm not sure you can say these things and
simultaneously try to say you have a welcoming developer environment. All third
party Twitter developers, no matter what they make, are now walking on
eggshells, constantly at risk of offending Twitter's ideas of how users should
interact with Twitter."
a responder identified as TJ Luoma added that Sarver's statement should be
translated to, "Thanks for building apps that made people want to use
Twitter. Thanks for putting up with us through the months and months of
instability. We'll take over from here. If you want to try to build something
around the fringes of Twitter, that's fine, but really, we don't need you
Darryl K. Taft covers the development tools and developer-related issues beat from his office in Baltimore. He has more than 10 years of experience in the business and is always looking for the next scoop. Taft is a member of the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) and was named 'one of the most active middleware reporters in the world' by The Middleware Co. He also has his own card in the 'Who's Who in Enterprise Java' deck.