Twitter Tightens Restrictions on Third-Party Clients

By Beecher Tuttle March 14, 2011

Citing the need to offer a less fragmented user experience, Twitter on Friday made major changes to its terms of service, putting heavy restrictions on developers of third-party clients.

Ryan Sarver, the head of platform and API at Twitter, noted in a recent statement that the micro-blogging site is no longer interested in allowing anyone to develop new Twitter clients.

"Developers ask us if they should build client apps that mimic or reproduce the mainstream Twitter consumer client experience," he wrote. "The answer is no."

Furthermore, Sarver issued a stern warning to developers of existing third-party clients, noting that Twitter will start holding them to "high standards" concerning privacy and the consistency of the user experience.

Sarver said that 90 percent of active users are embracing the company's official apps, but the remaining 10 percent seem to be confused by the "fractured landscape" that is offered by many third-party Twitter clients. He added that the purpose of the new guidance is to ensure that users are offered a seamless experience with Twitter and various tweet actions.

"For example, people get confused by websites or clients that display tweets in a way that doesn’t follow our design guidelines, or when services put their own verbs on tweets instead of the ones used on Twitter," Sarver wrote.

Twitter's concern over a disjointed user experience was the primary motivation behind purchasing Tweetie and the company's own official iPhone app, he added.

The move to regain dominant control over its platform comes just a month after Twitter suspended a handful of third-party applications after finding that they violated the company's API policies.

For developers of current third-party apps, the new policy is a clear threat to their existence. Eric Mill, the first to comment on Sarver's statement, said that Twitter can no longer boast 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," he wrote.


Beecher Tuttle is a TechZone360 contributor. He has extensive experience writing and editing for print publications and online news websites. He has specialized in a variety of industries, including health care technology, politics and education. To read more of his articles, please visit his columnist page.

Edited by Tammy Wolf

TechZone360 Contributor

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