Twitter New
July 27, 2012

Twitter Turns Knife Towards Instagram Friend Finder

Michael Harper for — Your Universe Online

Ironic, isn´t it, that a social networking service meant to keep people always connected with one another, just wants to be left alone. Twitter has taken yet another step to ensure their eventual solitude as they tighten their API guidelines and restrict what other companies are and aren´t allowed to do with the micro-blogging service, and this time Instagram is in the middle of Twitter´s crosshairs.

Of course, it´s a bit of an exaggeration to say that Twitter is going to eventually live in a world of solitude. After all, Twitter didn´t completely shun Instagram, just in the same way they didn´t completely shun LinkedIn earlier this month.

The team at Twitter, it seems, wants to be very selective with whom they cooperate. The problem is, Twitter´s API and services have been widely available for years, allowing nearly anyone with a few spare lines of code to give their users the ability to shoot out their thoughts in 140-character bursts. While this episode between Instagram and Twitter doesn´t remove the ability to tweet those distressed, vintage photos, it does remove the ability to find and connect with your Twitter friends through the Instagram app. The LinkedIn restrictions, as a point of context, removed the ability to send Tweets to a LinkedIn profile, though it still allowed the ability to send LinkedIn status updates to Twitter.

The option to find your friends in the Instagram app remains, however, and when this option is tapped, an error message is displayed, which reads: “Twitter no longer allows its users to access this information in Instagram via the Twitter API. We apologize for any inconvenience.”

According to TechCrunch, Twitter is singling out the photo sharing service, as other social apps such as The Fancy and Foursquare are still allowed to access this part of the API.

Instagram has also announced its 80 millionth user and 4 billionth photo, causing some to speculate if Twitter simply removed some of their API privileges to lighten some of their servers´ workload. Either way, randomly enforcing portions of API is seen as less-than-friendly and dramatically reduces the functionality of other apps, which may very well be exactly what Twitter wants to do.

Last month, Twitter issued a blog post entitled “Delivering a consistent Twitter experience” wherein Michael Sippey laid out – in less-than-plain terms – where Twitter will be heading in the future.

After praising all of Twitter´s recent accomplishments and future plans, Sippey began to “hint” to developers that their tools are good enough to get the job done, and third-party developers needn´t use their tools anymore, all in an effort to “make sure that the Twitter experience is straightforward and easy to understand.”

Sippey then goes on to say, “Related to that, we´ve already begun to more thoroughly enforce our Developer Rules of the Road with partners, for example with branding, and in the coming weeks, we will be introducing stricter guidelines around how the Twitter API is used.”

This latest scrape with Instagram is likely an arm of these new restrictions.