Twitter’s #DickMove

If you are a Twitter user, you have probably heard about the sweeping changes made by Twitter to the Twitter API ToS (Terms of Service). In one fell swoop, Twitter’s platform lead Ryan Sarver outlawed all new Twitter clients. The justification offered was that Twitter wants to provide a consistent user experience in order to avoid confusing users. Of course, it doesn’t take a genius to figure out that Twitter’s real motivation is something a lot less noble.


Back in 2009, when Twitter was experiencing tearaway growth, the billion dollar question in everyone’s mind was how will Twitter manage to generate enough revenue to become profitable. Two years on, we have a better idea. Besides selling access to search engines like Google and Bing, Twitter is using various promoted products (promoted trends, promoted accounts and promoted tweets) to generate revenue. The recent inclusion of the #dickbar in the iOS app suggests that Twitter is about to get more aggressive about monetization. Unfortunately, if a large number of users continue to prefer third party apps, Twitter might find it harder to generate enough revenue. And, that is the single biggest motivation for Twitter’s recent ToS changes. If maintaining consistent user experience is all they were worried about, they could have easily made third party apps fall in line by introducing a few additional clauses to the ToS, instead of abolishing them.

MG Siegler has done a comparison of the old ToS with the new one. The most telling bit is that Twitter has gone from wanting to empower our ecosystem partners to build valuable businessesto empower our ecosystem partners to build valuable tools.

As you might expect, most developers aren’t bemused. Twitter started off as simple service intended for sharing what you are currently doing with your friends. Now, it is being used for everything from organizing protests to proposing one’s girlfriend. Twitter itself has gone from asking “What are you doing?” to “What’s happening?. The credit for the evolution of Twitter lies with its ecosystem, which includes both users and third-party developers.

Fred Oliveira eloquently explained why the recent ToS change is a #dickmove in an open letter to Twitter. Twitter’s dramatic change of policy will not only anger developers, but also users. To quote Oliveira:

Lack of trust (like what developers are feeling right now) trickles down through the ecosystem and to the users’ ears.
I just don’t see this as a time when you can just tell developers you don’t need their clients anymore. Find ways to monetize your service by putting up sensible rules and guidelines, not walls.

However, there is another issue that Oliveira missed. From the very beginning, it is the ecosystem that defined and redefined Twitter. The list of features that were first seen in third-party clients and were later adopted by Twitter is fairly lengthy. It includes features like retweets, trends, lists, flickr integration, YouTube integration, URL shortening and so on. In brief, Twitter clients have been responsible for major innovations, and they have helped shape Twitter. By preventing the entry of third-party apps, Twitter will also be stifling innovation.

Twitter raised large sums of money in its funding rounds. It is obviously under pressure to start generating serious revenue soon. However, it seems to be willing to betray developers, annoy users, and damage the entire ecosystem in the process. The big question is can they afford to continue pissing off developers and users? Is the core product compelling enough to make users and developers stick around irrespective of Twitter’s betrayal? I have a feeling that if Twitter continues to be irreverent towards developers, in the long run, these very decisions might come back to haunt Dick Costolo and Twitter.

Rovio Announces Angry Birds for Facebook with New Gameplay

Zynga better watch out! After conquering the iOS App Store and Android Market (as well as Nokia’s Ovi Store and Palm’s App Catalog), Rovio has set its sights on Facebook.


Rovio Mobile is being fairly tight-lipped about the game. “There will be completely new aspects to it that just haven’t been experienced in any other platform, teased Rovio’s CEO Mikael Hed. It will obviously tap into Facebook’s social features to broaden its appeal. In the past Zynga has very smartly encouraged users to invite their friends, and compete with them (directly or indirectly) to increase its viral factor. Rovio has also hinted that Angry Birds for Facebook will, for the first time, see the pigs in a much more prominent role.

Although Angry Birds is expected to land in Facebook soon, Rovio has confirmed that we won’t be seeing it before April.

Besides Angry Birds for Facebook, Rovio is working on numerous other Angry Birds related projects. A movie and its tie-up game are already under development. Angry Birds for PlayStation Network, Xbox 360 and Wii have also been confirmed. The much awaited sequel is also probably in the cards. Additionally, Rovio is keen to launch several Angry Birds spin-offs, including a racing and a sports game.

Peter Vesterbacka, the mighty eagle of Rovio, believes that, “Angry Bird will be bigger than Mickey Mouse and Super Mario”. With relentless updates, new ports and spin-offs, Rovio wants to broaden its appeal, while remaining fresh and relevant to its existing fan base. Will its strategy work? Or will we see Angry Birds losing its steam in the near future? Let us know what you think.

Facebook Launches New Comments Platform

Facebook has just unveiled its completely revamped Comments platform for blogs and other websites, in a move that will put it in direct competition with the likes of Disqus and IntenseDebate. You can go ahead and grab the script from the Facebook dev section.

Although there are quite a few 3rd-party comment management systems, Facebook has a few significant advantages. As you might guess, Facebook’s biggest advantage is its massive existing user base. The Facebook plugin features a unique two-way integration, which will encourage more comments while reducing spam. All comments published through the Facebook Comments Box will display the real name of the commenter. Furthermore, the comment will also be posted on the commenter’s profile, unless he manually chooses not to share his comment. These two factors should help in reducing the quantity of trolls by removing the veil of anonymity. Additionally, if you post a comment and your friend responds to that comment on Facebook, your friend’s response will also be visible on the 3rd-party website. Once again, this should make the webmasters happy by increasing user participation.


Some of the other handy features include automatic sorting of comments based on the number of likes, and crowd sourced spam moderation. There is also the possibility of integrating 3rd-party login providers. Currently, the only big name that Facebook has managed to get onboard is Yahoo. TechCrunch believes that Facebook also wanted to tie-up with Google and Twitter, but the deal fell through due to existing animosity among the involved parties.


On the whole, Facebook Comments Box is a compelling offering. The lack of anonymity might put off some commenters and also make it unsuitable for certain websites. However, a lot of webmasters, and a lot of users are going to love the social features offered by Facebook Comments. Right now, if I were Disqus, I would be scared shitless.

PayPal for iPhone Now Supports Fundrazr

PayPal has just updated it’s mobile app to include support for Funrazr; a social fundraising solution which provides users with an easy way to raise funds using your PayPal and social networking accounts. The new feature also allows users to share the Fundrazr campaigns with friends.

PayPal Funrazr

In addition to creating new Funrazr campaigns, users can also track the donations against the goals you have created and also monitor all the campaign progress from your phone itself.

PayPal 3.2 for iOS also includes new feature which allows you to reorder your favorite PayPal mobile features in the app allowing you easy access to features such as PayPal local, mobile check capture and other features. You can download the latest app from the app store or use the app store to update your existing app.

Is UberSocial The New UberTwitter?

Update: Probably Yes. See updates below.

If you have been seeing tweets on saying that UberSocial is the new UberTwitter, you are probably falling into a pit. First off, UberTwitter was banned earlier today by Twitter and they would not risk coming out with a new name because of what they have at stake.

The owner of UberTwitter; UberMedia, own a large number of Twitter clients including the recently acquired . Performing such a circumnavigation on the ban Twitter put in place would ensure that the new client got blocked along with all other UberMedia properties.

Also the site UberSocial is hardly functional. The downloads don’t work and the website is just not owned by the owners of UberTwitter. I might be wrong but you can check the Who Is information and I doubt it is owned by UberMedia.

Rest aside, stay away from UberSocial and if you are in so much of a desperate need, check out the UberTwitter alternatives for Blackberry.

Updates Below

The UberSocial site is owned by UberMedia. I have been able to confirm it through Who IS information which match those from UberSocial and UberMedia. They are both hosted on the same name servers:

However, UberSocial has not yet been submitted to the World and neither is the site functional. Whether renaming a client to another name would give it another chance on Twitter is yet to be seen.

Nevertheless, this has been an endless fiasco of a client being banned and it coming into the system by changing it’s name to another brand altogether when it was already one of the most popular brands on a device.

Sorry for jumping the gun on this, but sometimes you miss out on researching things fully and then come across updates which require you to re-justify what you wrote. I will try and ensure that this does not happen in the future.

Libya Crucifies the "Internet" Too; It Should Just Win a Nobel Prize

For the past few years I have been on social networking sites like and , there has been a trend. That trend has defined what social networking can do. No, it is not promoting advertisements, it is promoting real-life situations and revolutions all around the world and spreading news about disasters as quickly and efficiently as we could have imagined.

Google Search Libya Traffic Drop

In the past month or so there were revolutions in Egypt and Tunisia, both these countries strangulated the Internet and it looks like Libya is doing the same now.

In the wake of the rising protests, the first thing these countries do is to cut-off their ties with the external world by cutting off the cord that allows them to breathe into it; these two include cutting off phone lines which are obvious and now the "Internet" which is the second biggest way for people to communicate with each other.

So is this justified? No, but there is no democracy anywhere. There have been blockages by the Governments of India and Pakistan who have banned websites for no reasons which do not call for these bans at all. These are countries which are purely democratic in nature.

It definitely hurts me that Countries target the internet because people can use it to post their views. Well we know how autocratic China is, but should each and every country be like them? Of course, I can’t say that Libya is a liberal country, but curtailing access to the Internet is not a justified way (and most likely sensible way) of killing protests across the board.

People around the world will find ways to know what you do, it does not matter whether you do or do not allow access to the Internet. People will also find ways to access blocked websites, whether or not you allow access to it. So stop acting like you are stopping a child from having candy, when they desire it so much.

If this does not stop, I bet that the Internet will go from being nominee for the Nobel Prize to actually winning it.

(Traffic drop image via @mattcutts)

UberTwitter and twidroyd Not Working? Twitter Suspended Them

Update: Added comment from Twitter below.

If you are user of the popular clients for , or ; UberTwitter or twidroyd for Twitter, you might not be able to use those applications for some time now.

We have suspended UberTwitter and twidroyd for violating our policies.

Every day, we suspend hundreds of applications that are in violation of our policies. Generally, these apps are used by a small number of users. We are taking the unusual step of sharing this with you because today’s suspension may affect a larger number of users.

has officially suspended the two clients for violating of policies. So UberTwitter and twidroyd users will no longer be able to access their tweets, replies or messages and update their statuses.

We are committed to helping you continue to use Twitter during the disruption of these applications. You can download Twitter for Blackberry, Twitter for Android and other official Twitter apps here. You can also try our mobile web site or apps from other third-party developers.

The Next Web found the note which was posted on the Twitter support blog, where Twitter suggested that users of these clients use another app for their Twitter needs. Though the note mentioned that these clients were blocked for policy violations, there was no updates on what policies they had violated.

Nevertheless, lot of Blackberry users will be left out in the cold because UberTwitter is one of the most popular clients. You could switch to the official Twitter client for Blackberry for now till this issue is resolved.

We have emailed Twitter for more information and will update this post as soon as we get any updates from them.

Update: Twitter spokesperson Carolyn Penner responded back with a comment

We ask all developers in the Twitter ecosystem to abide by a simple set of rules that are in the interests of our users, as well as the health and vitality of the platform as a whole.

We often take actions to enforce these rules; in fact, on an average day we turn off more than one hundred services that violate our API rules of the road. This keeps the ecosystem fair for everyone.

Today we suspended several applications, including UberTwitter, twidroyd and UberCurrent, which have violated Twitter policies and trademarks in a variety of ways. 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. We continue to be in contact with UberMedia and hope that they will bring the suspended applications into compliance with our policies soon.

So it looks like UberTwitter violated several rules including trademark, character limits and making money by editing tweets.

Update 2: Left out in the cold, check out some UberTwitter alternatives for Blackberry and Android.

How To Disable Facebook New Photo Theatre Viewer

recently rolled out a new Photo viewer which provided users with a theatre like view for viewing photo albums. Though the new Theatre view for Facebook works well, it is definitely not liked by everyone.

Facebook Photo Theatre View

So what if you don’t want to view photos using the new Facebook Theatre view? Well, you cannot disable it directly using Facebook but you could use a userscript for and to disable the theatre view in Facebook.

The "Facebook Photo Theater Killer" userscript kills the annoying new photo theater on Facebook and allows you to browse the photos the old way. This script works on Google Chrome and Firefox only for now.

So go ahead and install the script to get rid of the new annoyance created by Facebook. Thanks Binoy.

Update: If you use Google Chrome, you can also use these extensions to disable the new Facebook photo viewer.

Google Social Search Goes Mainstream

For the past year or so, Google has been testing "Social Search" where they displayed search results from your social contacts on and , and among other networks at the bottom of the search results.

Google Social Search Results

Today, Google has announced that they will be going mainstream with social search and displaying results from your connected contacts in the main search results itself.


With the introduction of social search in results, users will start seeing results from people who have shared content in your social circle with an annotation that the results has been pulled by someone in your circle. The integration of social results in the search results will add more trust because you will know that it has been already been seen and shared by someone you know.

Google will also display notes under search results when a link has been shared on sites like Twitter or Facebook among other things so that you can easily see where your friends have shared the content previously.

We’ve given you more control over how you connect accounts, and made connecting accounts more convenient. You can still connect accounts publicly on your Google profile, but now we’ve added a new option to connect accounts privately in your Google Account. (After all, you may not want everyone to know you’re @spongebobsuperfan on Twitter.) In addition, if our algorithms find a public account that might be yours (for example, because the usernames are the same), we may invite you to connect your accounts right on the search results page and in your Google Account settings:

Google will also provide an option to connect accounts privately so that your super secret Twitter or Facebook account does not show up in social results, taking care of privacy concerns that might crop up due to this.

Google Social Search results will only be displayed when you have logged in with your Google account. Google will be rolling out the social results for English only users right now and they should start appearing in the coming week or so. You can watch the video for the new Google Social Search update to learn more about the new feature below. Click here if you can’t view it.

Meta Assassins Turns the WWW Into a Subtle Battlefield

The internet has always been obsessed about itself. Its narcissistic tendencies have been the driving factor in the making of data visualization about its own technologies, semantic web technology and other endless lists full of the emerging science of the hive mind and the self’s position in this meta-world.


Did you understand that previous paragraph? I sure didn’t but that’s how you start these intellectual and deep posts about the internet, data and other characters of the philosophical nature of the World Wide Web.

However, we are not talking about the philosophical nature of the World Wide Web. We are here to talk about the launch of an extremely new kind of experimental game that takes social browsing and networking to a completely new level.

Meta Assassins is a new appthat promises to rid you of your social life, more or less. It is a game in which gamers will be given specific targets (other gamers), who will surf the web. Your job is to track your quarry to the site they are on and kill them in a [virtual] shootout. But, beware you are also someone’s target. You accomplish all this with a Google Chrome or Mozilla Firefox plugin.

The game is currently on a hiatus from the 12th of February. The short playtesting stint was apparently a success, so the developers will be making a redoubled effort into a new avatar.

Although the game works mostly on the world wide web, the amount of data privacy issues this could cause if it were not a game is quite staggering. I would totally turn this into a Hollywood blockbuster (given the right amount of nudging here and there), call it Meta Assassins, and mint money.

If you are interested in this, do check their web page out.