Competition increases among social networking firms 

click to enlarge App clash: Twitter has blocked users of the latest version of Instagram from  finding their Twitter contacts in the app. - COURTESY PHOTO
  • Courtesy Photo
  • App clash: Twitter has blocked users of the latest version of Instagram from finding their Twitter contacts in the app.

Twitter is no longer playing quite so nicely with other competitors in the social networking sandbox.

After recently prohibiting the users of LinkedIn from posting tweets directly to their profiles on that network, San Francisco-based Twitter just cut off users of the Instagram photo-sharing service in a similar manner.

When Instagram users update their smartphones with the version of the app that came out Thursday, they’ll discover that the Find Friends on Twitter function is no longer one of their options. Instead, they’ll encounter a message that says “Unable to Find Friends. Twitter no longer allows its users to access this information in Instagram via the Twitter API. We apologize for any inconvenience.”

Instagram was acquired last April by Twitter rival Facebook, based in Menlo Park. Twitter isn’t saying whether that $1 billion transaction has anything to do with the recent policy change, but one industry observer said he wouldn’t be surprised if that was the case.

“Twitter and Facebook obviously don’t like each other, so it’s predictable that they aren’t going to support each other,” technology analyst Rob Enderle said. “The situation is pretty similar to that of Apple and Amazon right now.”

However, Enderle said Twitter has every right to selectively share the right to connect to its so-called application programming interface.

“They’re not in violation of any sort of law,” Enderle said. “An API allows people to connect to their platform and at the same time gives them every right to restrict certain people from using it.”

Twitter declined to shed any light on its thinking Monday, and only confirmed the basic facts of the situation.

“We understand that there’s great value associated with Twitter’s follow graph data, and we can confirm that it is no longer available within Instagram,” a Twitter spokesman said via email.

At least for the time being, other social apps such as Foursquare — a location-based social networking app — and Fancy — a store, blog, magazine and wishlist rolled into one — are still allowed to offer their users complete integration with Twitter users.

A blog post on Instagram made it clear that users of that service can still share photos on Twitter’s network via the service’s Tweet Photo tool.

“Pictures are shared on Instagram, and can be easily uploaded to other social media platforms including Twitter, Facebook and Tumblr,” said the site’s news page.

In early July, Twitter stopped letting LinkedIn users publish tweets directly to their profiles, and tweets previously published on LinkedIn subsequently disappeared.

ssaya@sfexaminer.com

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Suha Saya

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