Twitter tells developers: No more Twitter Clients

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While Twitter has embraced its developers community with third-party applications providing additional functionality, the company has now backflipped and has told its community to stop building Twitter clients, leaving the development only for the company.

The company has cited privacy violations and an inconsistent experience as its main arguments.

“If there are too many ways to use Twitter that are inconsistent with one another, we risk diffusing the user
experience. In addition, a number of client applications have repeatedly violated Twitter’s Terms of Service, including our user privacy policy,” Ryan Sarver of Twitter’s Platform team announced on its developer discussion group.

“This demonstrates the risks associated with outsourcing the Twitter user experience to third parties. Twitter has to revoke literally hundreds of API tokens / apps a week as part of our trust and safety efforts, in order to protect the user experience on our platform.”

“Developers have told us that they’d like more guidance from us about the best opportunities to build on Twitter. 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.”

Both sides do make some good arguments. Twitter says that it brings some user consistency and makes sure all the features of the web are available as to what is on the site. However, developers are arguing that it not only closes off competition for Twitter and damage the profitability of several companies, such as UberMedia (who had two of its applications blocked).

As well, the clients add more functions to Twitter. Tweetdeck (who is in the process of being bought by UberMedia) now has its own service, deck.ly, that allows you to post more than 140 characters. Clients also allow a constant view of replies and tweets in one window rather than pages.

While not able to create clients, Twitter developers will still be able to produce Twitter-based applications, but limited to areas such as publisher tools, content verticals, real-time data signals, social CRM and content curation.

Twitter already has several official applications, many of which acquired. It bought Tweetie in order to have Twitter on the iPhone and Mac, and already has produced its own Android and BlackBerry app (the latter of which is usable but not the best). However, with the lack of an application for Windows and Linux users, many will resort to applications for a better experience.

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