Twitter is Circling The Wagons

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With two recent news stories (both encapsulated in this article), a trend is beginning to take shape in how Twitter is planning on dealing with users viewing, creating and managing tweets outside the Twitter-native clients and website.

Twitter wants to end that.

This is a rather short-sighted plan, and will no doubt hurt Twitter in the long term, but what does that actually mean to the average user?

First, it means that automatic cross-posting of tweets to LinkedIn is coming to an end. There are still third-party ways to perform this kind of action, but the officially-sanctioned methods are being shut down. Generally, since Twitter and LinkedIn are used for two very different audiences, that’s not a problem. However, for Information Workers using both services, it could be a bit of a hassle.

Secondly, Twitter looks as though they are trying to curtail the ability of third-party developers who want to create Twitter clients on various platforms. Instead, Twitter would prefer if everyone used their official clients for Windows, Mac, iDevices, Android, etc. or else used the Twitter website.

Why would they do that? Simple, they want money. Advertising and sharing of bulk data from their network are how Twitter makes their cash, and third party applications can skew those funding sources a bit. A non-Twitter client may not properly report all the information Twitter wants to sell to people, and may not show all the ads and sponsored tweets that Twitter wants advertisers to buy into.

Granted, if there’s one lesson that a decade of DVR’s and years of non-ad-supported pay-for-download content services have taught, it’s that users hate ads. The “digital generation” would rather spend hundreds of bucks on Tivos or rent/buy media through iTunes than watch it on ad-supported networks. This hasn’t, however, stopped advertisers from trying to load shows with more ads in some kind of futile game of cat-and-mouse for our eyeballs.

Twitter knows they need to sell ads to make money, and anything that can reduce that ability must be ended, quickly. Cross posting to and from LinkedIn was the first thing to get stopped – an opening salvo in the ad war over social media. Reduction of functionality for third-party clients appears to be the next step, even though that hasn’t been brought to bear just yet.

So what can you do? You could get used to using the native Twitter applications. They’re not horrible, and they may do what you need. If not, you can vote by letting Twitter know you’d be willing to pay for a premium service offering that lets you use any client that you want. If enough folks say they’d pay for that option, Twitter might find that appealing and make it happen.

Make no mistake, Twitter *will* reduce the functionality of third-party software. It’s the only way they can make money, and like any other business in the world; their goal is to make money. You can vote with your wallet, or you can get used to using the service for free in only the ways they say you’re allowed to. Your choice.

I, for one, would be willing to pay for an open Twitter platform. I could cough up US$3-5/month for a service without restrictions. But that’s just me. What do you think? Sound off in the discussion section!

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