Twitter Makes More Changes, Upsets Developers and Users

A little over a week ago I wrote about Twitter’s new changes to its API, and how it was upsetting a lot of developers. We’re still not sure how much those last few changes will affect the Twitterverse, as they don’t go into effect for six more months. But Twitter isn’t waiting for those changes to take effect before making more.

For the longest time, users’ tweets displayed what platform they tweeted from. There are numerous apps that have been developed to help users control their accounts and tweets, post faster, or a whole host of other reasons. Twitter has now decided to remove display that shows which app or platform a user tweets from—and it’s effective immediately.

The Motives Behind the Move

Last night Devin Doldewey at NBCNews reported that the update “removed a minor but well-liked feature that let users see the app or service with which others were tweeting.” Once again Twitter is going after a feature that users and developers are pleased with. Users get more access to 3rd party apps and the developers get free exposure from the old way. But that just might be why Twitter made the changes.

Twitter told CNet that “This is part of our ongoing work to simplify Tweets and emphasize the content being shared.” So, according to Twitter they are doing everyone a favor by making this change. Donna Tam from CNet writes, “It’s the latest in a series of changes that are meant to emphasize the core Twitter experience.” So on one hand they are emphasizing the Twitter experience and on the other they are trying to emphasize the content being shared.

If you couldn’t tell, I’m a little pessimistic about the recent changes Twitter has been making, and I barely even use the service. But I know how important Twitter is and how vital open source and easy communication needs to be for the internet to thrive. Then again, Twitter has every right to control their own service, but it can be frustrating. It’s not just frustrating for me either. People in general are unhappy with the changes. Devin Doldewey again: “Users are up in arms and #OccupyTwitter is the rallying cry. Recent changes have alienated developers and soured relations” with services once mutually successful with Twitter.

Some developers are shutting down or reducing their work. Now they won’t even get recognition when a user tweets using their service. Where’s the incentive to continue making a great product for people to use Twitter? I supposed that’s the whole point, as has been mentioned above.

Twitter Gaining More Control and More to Come?

Twitter is obviously making moves to give it better control of its brand, not necessarily to emphasize the content as they say they are. It’s a pleasant sounding way to explain this, but Twitter has always been about its content. A little text about how and with what a tweet was made never took away from content on Twitter. In fact, I’d go as far to say that Twitter is its content. They should be careful with the direction they are headed.

Given the pace of the recent changes at Twitter, it’s likely that more are to come. Many people are not quite sure yet what the endgame is. Twitter has become a powerful and seemingly permanent tool on the internet, and it’s going to stay that way. How much freedom and control users will have remains to be seen. We’ll keep an eye out for the next set of changes. You should too.

Have you ever made changes in your business that alienated or upset customers?

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Patrick currently lives in Somerville, Massachusetts, where he is studying for a Master's Degree in Intercultural Relations. Upon graduation from Penn State in 2008, he spent two years overseas in Kyrgyzstan with the U.S. Peace Corps. While writing is currently his chosen way to put food on the table, he loves fitness and exercise, which he believes makes up for his avid computer gaming habit.

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