Hacker News new | past | comments | ask | show | jobs | submit login

Twitter: Don't build core-feature Twitter clients, we probably won't approve them.

Atta: I built a core-feature Twitter client!

Twitter: Sorry, we're not approving your core-feature Twitter client.

Who is surprised? How is this news? Were you expecting them to not apply their own rules? It seems like a clear-cut case, and concluding "don't build anything for Twitter" is just throwing a temper tantrum.

>concluding "don't build anything for Twitter" is just throwing a temper tantrum.

Not really. They led people on, over the years, into building on their API. People spent a lot of time and money building Twitter clients. Then they pulled the rug out. Why would you build anything using an API that could get arbitrarily locked down in the future?

The thing I don't get is: why build a Twitter client? Doing anything remotely useful with Twitter involves building something really substantial on top of the stream of tweets and users.

Hardly. I find Twitter's official clients' UIs atrocious, and happily paid for a third-party's implementation with roughly the same functionality (TweetBot, if you care). I don't find data mining of mostly-mundane content terribly interesting, with the exception of people posting photos of their debit cards (https://twitter.com/needadebitcard)

WTF? Why do people post photos of their debit cards online?!?

Haha, glad to see I wasn't the only one shocked by that. That's pretty incredible actually.

That's nothing compared to when one of the issuing banks @replied to the person doing it, telling them to remember to set up online account access.

Yes, I'm serious.

Literally lol'd when I saw the needadebitcard feed.

Twitter's official web client has no filtering capability, for one thing. For that reason alone I can't use it regularly.

But the rug was pulled out well before anyone was thinking about writing Windows 8 app.

And you build with proprietary APIs because that's where the users are. You can make a StatusNet client with no worries, but nobody will care.

From what I can tell it doesn't affect current clients, only new ones.

It affects current clients; they just enforce the limits differently. You can get up to the greater of 2x your current userbase or 100,000 users at the time of the announcement. For applications with a massive install base that could still allow for significant growth, but they're still limited to not more than doubling in size.

There were a bunch of Twitter apologists a while back who went around saying "hey, they just want to communicate with you when your service gets popular so they can support you better, make sure you don't subvert their monetization". But no, it turns out they really do just want you to die and go away.

So I imagine those people who were doing the apologizing are surprised. And as most of the rest of us thought, Twitter has withdrawn from being a platform and is just a business now. Just like any other business, don't bother doing anything with them unless you draw it up in a contract in advance. The independent 3rd party ecosystem for Twitter is dead. But the good news is that the opportunity for a startup that wants to be a true platform in this space is riper than it has been for a while.

It's worth keeping in mind that Marco is/was doubly fucked, because in addition to cracking down on client tokens, quoth section 3b of the new display guidelines:

    No other social or 3rd party actions may be attached
    to a Tweet.
This was the wording of the section at the famous time of the Twitter blog post describing the Bermuda quadrant of impending developer ostracism. This is what it reads currently:

    No other social or 3rd party actions similar to Follow,
    Reply, Retweet and Favorite may be attached to a Tweet.
For some, there is not only one, but several Damoclean swords dangling over developers.

I'm not sure I follow. Isn't the second wording less restrictive than the first? It suggests that social and 3rd party actions dissimilar to Follow, Reply, Retweet and Favorite are now allowed.

I don't know if anyone is surprised by the response as much as disappointed. I've seen the news that twitter is limiting api clients but I haven't seen news of them denying someone who reached that limit more keys. I clicked this wondering what was going to happen with Tweetbot for mac when it hits the same limit and now I know.

Maybe the "Don't build anything for Twitter" thing is a little heavy handed but the fact remains that if you build something that you hoping will get more than 100k users you can't count on twitter as a stable platform.

Its not heavy-handed. Twitter has shown repeatedly that they have no problem with:

a) changing the rules of the game and b) leaving you in the dark of what the actual rules _are_

Make business with people that care about your business. Twitter clearly doesn't.

Twitter was quite happy to sit and watch as people built fantastic services and tools on the service that without a doubt increased engagement, then sort of went "oh shit we need to make some money" and proceeded to piss on the bonfire 3rd party developers have created. It's even handed for Twitter and heavy handed for people that expect rationality from a company.

they're acting perfectly rationally: they see third party clients as a threat to their ability to monetise, so they're killing them

why anyone would expect a business to do anything else is beyond my understanding!

When the popularity of your business has been built on the back of third party services and additions (hashtags? Retweets?) there's a certain level of expectation you're not going to turn around and stab them in the back.

The word "tweet" to refer to a post. A bird as the logo! Twitter started as barely more than a faceless service, and most of what is "Twitter" as a brand came from its users and developers.

Not that there isn't precedent for their model. I remember being fascinated to read that the Big Mac and Ronald McDonald both came from local franchise restaurants, not corporate HQ. It's just a frustrating position to take. It feels short sighted.

A really cool fried who suddenly shows up for lunch in a suit, then eventually stops calling you. Your mom reads about them in a magazine and excitedly tells you what they're up to for a few years, then you stop hearing about them.

So would you say the same thing about people that abuse regulations adopted honestly in the spirit of helping the public and now having been captured by special interests abuse it to serve their own interest?

For example, most taxi cab regulations were passed in an era where the public had extremely unsafe and unclear transportation in an unfettered race to the bottom, (were being extorted by drivers, unsafe cars and unlicensed drivers, no insurance, etc etc). So in many municipalities regulations after much debate were passed to address these concerns that the market seemed unable to correct.

Now after enough time has passed, are the usages by taxi companies of those regulations to insure their market dominance in your view acting rationally or in an abusive manner?

You should take a look at the history of regulation of taxi's in New York. It had less to do with safety or clarity than protecting exiting cabbies and from competition during the depression.


Abusive, the regulations haven't adopted with the times, but it's apple to oranges in that situation.

I suspect Über would have a different answer to the apparently assumed one in your question.

While I certainly don't think that twitter has handled the developer ecosystem very well, this is absolutely on point. They said not to do this, he did it, they did what they said they would.

I will add that, if the developer had made five dollars on each sale, he or she would now have a half million dollars, but I'm assuming they didn't, as the story is pitched as a tragedy rather than a triumph.

It's interesting to me that a prevailing view seems to suggest that developers have a right to plumb a given service for data.

This worldview seems to come up most in relation to free services, so maybe it's a belief that freely consumable services via the Web or mobile give should mean a freedom to consume the same data via an API.

I think of it as being similar to the right to reverse engineer which you get for hardware in some jurisdictions.

I feel as a user as though I should be allowed to automate my use of Internet services. I should be able to use improved clients for any service as and when I like, to get improved user experience, and to integrate them with other services.

I can imagine a law that allows this. Entirely to encourage innovation and competition.

Remember - it's the early days of the web. It took about a century after the printing press before the consequent law changes (such as invention of copyright) settled down.

I expect it to take a century on the Internet as well. Everyone should plan for the future assuming our laws from previous centuries will be found by society to be unsuitable, and will change.

I believe a person owns the data traces of their life, not twitter, not facebook, not any financial institution or ad network.

Do you think by going to a physician and having a checkup that the hospital or doctor's network should now have the right to sell the fact that you have some skin condition to Johnson & Johnson so they can target you with advertising?

I do not. I feel a physician and twitter have a legal responsibility to insure my data is secured by them and also that I have the right to take my data and and provide it to a competitor.

Twitter and my physician are a little different in that Twitter should be able to tell me the consumer that I can not use both their service and another, whereas a physician is obligation bound to treat me. Twitter is refusing to engage and be honest with its users however and instead is smashing competition in a similar fashion that Craigslist is not being honest with its users.

I have been told my view is un-American and that is I guess proving in practice to be true. Americans seem more than happy to bargain away their information for a few pieces of candy.

Hospitals actually do sell their patient data to drug companies[1]. Not for advertising, but for medical research and drug trials.

[1]: http://www.businessweek.com/magazine/drugmakers-mine-data-fo...

Having worked in a hospital and undergone HIPAA training multiple times, I can assure you there are pretty strict rules about passing along identified data.

What the drug companies are purchasing is anonymized; they have the data about patient X, but they have n idea who that person is. They are literally purchasing only the chance to pass along a request through your doctors to see if you'd be interested in participating in a study if you meet some criteria.

> I believe a person owns the data traces of their life, not twitter, not facebook, not any financial institution or ad network.

And any given person may write their own client, and use one single token for their twitter account.

> Do you think by going to a physician and having a checkup that the hospital or doctor's network should now have the right to sell the fact that you have some skin condition to Johnson & Johnson so they can target you with advertising?

With the healthcare situation in America right now, I could imagine a lot of people would gladly trade that for a 10% cost reduction....

Applications are open for YC Winter 2022

Guidelines | FAQ | Lists | API | Security | Legal | Apply to YC | Contact