Following LinkedIn and Instagram, Tumblr has now had its Twitter access restricted – who’s next?

23 Aug 2012

Just as it did with Instagram a few weeks ago, Twitter has revoked access to its follow graph on Tumblr, which means users can no longer find friends to follow on the blogging network based on their Twitter contacts.

At the start of July, Twitter also stopped tweets from cross-posting to LinkedIn, making that three major social networks affected thus far by the company’s recent crackdown on how its API is used.

Buzzfeed writer Matt Buchanan correctly predicted that Tumblr would be next on Twitter’s hit list just hours before the service’s find friends privileges were revoked. Buchanan’s crystal ball sees Flipboard as the obvious next target, but even this won’t be the end of it.

The new rules

Michael Sippey, director of consumer product at Twitter, wrote earlier this month on the Twitter Developers blog that stricter guidelines on use of the Twitter API would soon be introduced. This includes changing its Display Guidelines to Display Requirements, which refers to linking @usernames to appropriate Twitter profiles and displaying appropriate tweet actions. For applications that break these rules, Twitter has firmly stated that their application key will be revoked.

On the surface, Twitter claims these changes will help deliver a consistent Twitter experience across the web. But really what the micro-blogging service hopes to do is limit the growth and development of traditional Twitter clients and the syndication of tweets.

While services like Klout, HootSuite and Topsy appear to be safe, others like Storify and could be in trouble. Twitter clients Tweetbot and Echofon have already been warned that Twitter no longer wants developers to build apps that mimic or reproduce the mainstream Twitter consumer client experience, so these services could be cut off any day now.

Twitter’s new attitude: What’s mine is mine

Just like its content stream, there is value attached to Twitter’s follow graph, and the network has become miserly of late, no longer willing to share what it can rightfully claim as its own. While Tumblr users can still connect with Twitter via outward sharing, the find friends feature was a very useful tool to help new and old users build up a network on the site. Being one of the first partners to take on Twitter Cards, Twitter’s new way to distribute content via expanded tweets, Tumblr is really feeling the sting of Twitter’s new, restrictive approach.

“To our dismay, Twitter has restricted our users’ ability to ‘Find Twitter Friends’ on Tumblr. Given our history of embracing their platform, this is especially upsetting,” reads Tumblr’s official statement. “Our syndication feature is responsible for hundreds of millions of tweets, and we eagerly enabled Twitter Cards across 70 million blogs and 30 billion posts as one of Twitter’s first partners. While we’re delighted by the response to our integrations with Facebook and Gmail, we are truly disappointed by Twitter’s decision.”

Elaine Burke is the editor of Silicon Republic