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Twitter is Game Over

Social is all about the connected world. But what Twitter (and Facebook) is doing is that they trying to disconnect you from the connected world, and instead force you to live exclusively inside their own bubbles.

Written by on August 18, 2012

You might have heard about Twitter's recent policy changes, which effectively kills the future for third party apps. They are limiting the API and turning optional guidelines into obligatory requirements.

As TheNextWeb wrote: [About the api changes] "That means that no third-party client can ever have more than 100k users, unless given special permission by Twitter or it already has over 100k right now, in which case it can have double the amount it has today. This move puts a life span on most for-pay clients, as they'll reach a point where there is no longer any reason for them to continue offering these apps for sale."

[About the policy changes] "Read as they are, this would also eliminate any clients that displayed tweets alongside other updates like comments and updates from outside social networks like Facebook. Section 3b. is also an interesting one, as it says "no other social or 3rd party actions may be attached to a Tweet."

When I read this, the first thing that came to mind was Flipboard. It's an app that I use several time every day to read my varies streams. But with Twitter's updated policy, I don't see how newsreaders like Flipboard could include Tweets. The entire purpose of Flipboard is to turn a tweet into a much more detailed (and useful) social newspaper.

By saying, "no 3rd party actions may be attached to a tweet" they are effectively eliminating any reason to use a third party app. From now on, they will all be required to have exactly the same functionality ...and look ...as Twitter itself.

Why doesn't Twitter just go out and ban 3rd party apps altogether? That's clearly what they want. These incremental cuts are hurting not only Twitter but everyone around them. It puts the entire Twitter ecosystem into a state where people say "I can't trust this" and "I cannot rely on Twitter".

Of course, what Twitter is doing is that they trying to turn themselves into a destination. Creating rules that outlaw 3rd parties from adding extra functional is a clear sign of their future strategy.

The problem is that they are moving in the wrong direction. I wrote about this in "What's Comes After Facebook? The Future of Social Media"

Social is all about the connected world. But what Twitter (and Facebook) is doing is that they trying to disconnect you from the connected world, and instead force you to live exclusively inside their own bubbles.

I see it the same way as when a magazine creates an iPad app, in which you can only consume and engage with the content from within that app. Twitter is trying to do the same with tweets.

I believe this is game over for not just 3rd party apps and social readers, but also for Twitter itself. Its very format of 140 characters means it serves is a facilitator of a connection, not the connection itself. You cannot turn that into a destination. Facebook can do it, because they have a much wider range of formats, but Twitter cannot.

And even with Twitter Cards, in which they take snippets of content and display it along a tweet is not the answer either. If you see a link to the NYTimes on Twitter, you get a short Twitter Card summary, but when you look at the same Tweet in Flipboard, you can read the original article as a signed-in NYT subscriber.

Twitter is not a destination because it's very purpose is not to be one.

As I wrote in my article: "Twitter will not go away anytime soon, but without the destinations, their future will be a social niche. Great for sharing quick things you want people to see, but not really a part of the larger social revolution."

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Thomas Baekdal

Thomas Baekdal

Founder of Baekdal, author, writer, strategic consultant, and new media advocate.

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