Monday, February 21, 2011

Twitter Apps Banned for Violating Policies

On Friday, February 18, Twitter announced that it had suspended the UberTwitter and twidroyd apps because it claimed that both of the apps violated the company’s API policies.

Responding to that, UberTwitter’s Twitter account, which has now been renamed UberSocial, said that it quickly changed all of the violation issues that Twitter had discovered with the app; however, later on Friday Twitter denied this claim.

Although Twitter’s suspension announcement due to the policy violations of the two apps was released via a support post to the company’s Web site, a spokesman from the company provided a better explanation.

"Today we suspended several applications, including UberTwitter, twidroyd and UberCurrent, which have violated Twitter policies and trademarks in a variety of ways," Matt Graves, a spokesman for Twitter, said in an email. "These violations include, but aren't limited to, a privacy issue with private Direct Messages longer than 140 characters, trademark infringement, and changing the content of users' Tweets in order to make money.”

"We've had conversations with UberMedia, the developer of these applications, about policy violations since April 2010 when they first launched under the name TweetUp – a term commonly used by Twitter users and a trademark violation," Graves added ."We continue to be in contact with UberMedia and hope that they will bring the suspended applications into compliance with our policies soon."

Twitter’s blog post also discussed how the company requests that all of their clients work with the Twitter API Terms of Service, which clearly outline all of the terms that have recently been violated.

"Regardless of how you access Twitter, we are dedicated to making Twitter better, faster and more reliable for you," Twitter said. "As part of this effort, we ask applications that work with Twitter to abide by a simple set of rules that we believe are in the interests of our users, and the health and vitality of the Twitter platform as a whole. We often take actions to enforce these rules.”

"We have suspended UberTwitter and twidroyd for violating our policies," the site said. "Every day, we suspend hundreds of applications that are in violation of our policies," Twitter added.

Now usually most of these applications are used by a small fraction of users, but UberTwitter and twidroyd are much more popular.

While these apps are suspended, Twitter has recommended that users go ahead and download the official Twitter client for BlackBerry and Android.

Like I said before, UberTwitter said that they corrected the issues for which the app was suspended. On Friday afternoon, the company tweeted, “We have made the changes Twitter requested. As soon as Twitter reactivates, you will be live again. Thx!" The company also stated that they would be changing its name.

Twitter’s PR account said that these claims by UberTwitter are not true. "We've been talking to UberMedia about policy violations since they were founded. We haven't reached a resolution."

At this same time Twitter was also busy promoting its own mobile Twitter apps via a #TwitterMobile hastag. Twitter never responded to a request for comment about this fact, but others discussed it.

"Yes, and it's total coincidence that on the day they were suspended Twitter ran the promoted Tweet #TwitterMobile and that UberTwitter was never suspended before being bought by Bill Gross & raising $17.5m," Mark Suster, a venture capitalist and partner with GRP Partners, posted on Quora following an additional explanation by Bill Gross, the CEO and founder of UberMedia. "I'm guessing these were total coincidences.”

"As a long-time user of UberTwitter I find this kind of platform behavior offensive," Suster added. "Not as a VC or as somebody who loves Twitter & always has. But as a user of a product Twitter chose to punish. It sure would have been nicer on your users if you issued a public warning and had given them 72 hours to respond. Who you f-cked was me. Your loyal user."

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