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Instagram drops ‘Find Twitter Friends’ feature

Instagram, an extremely popular photo sharing program, was launched in October 2010. The service is completely free and allows users to click a photo, apply a digital filter to it and then share it on an assortment of social networking services along with Instagram’s own.

Previously, Instagram users could hunt for their Twitter followers on Instagram platform by going to “Twitter friends” under the “Find friends” option, however, in the recent Instagram app update, Twitter has removed Instagram’s access to its API.
Instagram users are not anymore able to search for friends who are also their Twitter followers.

When Instagram users try to find their Twitter followers on Instagram, the app displays a message saying “Twitter no longer allows its users to access this information in Instagram via the Twitter API. We apologize for any inconvenience.”

The change has been seen both on iOS and Android version of Instagram app. As of now, Instagram is denied list of a particular Twitter account’s followers, however, complete integration of the popular microbl0gging service hasn’t been removed from the photo sharing platform. Instagram users are still allowed to post snaps on their twitter page directly using Instagram’s inbuilt feature.

Twitter did not instantly respond in connection with this move. The decision seems to be connected to Twitter placing a moratorium on third party apps.

Twitter back in March had issued a clear statement to developers that it would be placing a moratorium on third-party apps. According to Twitter’s director of platform, Ryan Sarver, the move doesn’t mean that we won’t be seeing Twitter integrated into other apps or online services. Apps like Foursquare or Instagram, or even companies like Klout who are into creating analytic tools, are still free to have Twitter integrated into their services, however, what company doesn’t want is developers mimicking its basic functionality.

“Developers ask us if they should build client apps that mimic or reproduce the mainstream Twitter consumer client experience,” he said. “The answer is no.”

According to Sarver, 90 percent of Twitter population uses company’s official apps and that is exactly why the company bought Tweetie, an iPhone client for Twitter, in order to release their own official app. The target is to deliver seamless experience to users. By seamless experience, what he means is that there are some developers use words like ‘comment,’ ‘like’ instead of ‘follow, favorite, retweet, reply,’ thus changing the whole functionality in the process. In a blog post in June, Twitter had indicated that they would be introducing severer guidelines connected to in what way its API is used.

In the meantime, LinkedIn has announced that their three yearlong partnership with Twitter has concluded. According to the partnership, LinkedIn users were allowed to associate their accounts to Twitter in such a way that any message posted on their Twitter account would appear on LinkedIn’s news feed automatically. That is no longer possible, nonetheless LinkedIn hasn’t lost Twitter integration completely. LinkedIn users should be still able to publish their tweets on LinkedIn’s news feed by clicking the “Share” button manually, which will update LinkedIn connections and Twitter followers.

All these moves can be related to future plans of Twitter wanting to make money by advertising in the stream. Twitter won’t be able to advertise if all the existing mechanisms of Twitter aren’t in agreement with developer’s app. Twitter is just looking to have ultimate control over how exactly the information is to be presented so that they can advertise seamlessly.

“We need to ensure that tweets and tweet actions, are rendered in a consistent way so that people have the same experience with tweets no matter what they are,” Sarver said

As far as Twitter’s decision for Instagram, it is worth noting that a company named Benchmark is the financier for both companies, thus making the decision difficult to swallow, but since Instagram was recently acquired by FaceBook, it could be the competition spirit too.
Previously, Instagram had updated its iOS and Android apps and announced that its community had grown to over 8o million users. That’s a pretty major benchmark to conquer for a service that was made public in October 2010. More than 4 billion photos have been shared using Instagram’s iOS and Android apps from all around the world.

The move is pretty disturbing as Twitter had always maintained their API to be an “open platform”, which developers see as a betrayal. Even though such moves have been made, we are sure Twitter won’t turn into a walled garden that is disconnected to the open web. They just seem to be adopting more of a closed ecosystem like Facebook, where users access the service using the website or mobile apps and not using third party services. Whatever they are up to, we just hope they know what they are doing.

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