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Bird Of Prey – Why Twitter Suspended UberTwitter And Twidroyd

The announcement yesterday that Twitter had suspended several Ubermedia clients, including UberTwitter and Twidroyd, took many by surprise, including Ubermedia CEO Bill Gross.

It also made my post yesterday morning look very prophetic.

So why did Twitter do this? The best answer can usually be found at the source, and both Gross, and Twitter themselves, have spoken openly about the decision on Quora.

Gross says:

Twitter told us today that they suspended our applications for three reasons:

1. Twitter said that in UberTwitter and Twidroyd we use a tweet-elongation service named tmi.me that allows people to write more than 140 characters, and that this service may post private messages on a public website.  At their request, we have removed this ability.

2. Twitter said that in UberCurrent we change links that are part of an affiliate program to be our own links.  We don’t currently do this, but we removed all changing of links to eliminate any possibility of this.

3. Twitter said that they would like us to change the name UberTwitter, and we have changed the name to UberSocial, effective immediately.

Twitter also said that as soon as we made these changes, they would restore our access to their API.  All the changes have been made, and Twitter has been notified, and we are waiting for the apps to be restored.

Twitter Communications Director Mark Graves adds:

We’re not going to get into a discussion about this here, but for context, I’ve enclosed the statement we’ve been providing to media asking about today’s news:

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.

This is all valuable information, but of particular interest here is Graves opening remark: “We’re not going to get into a discussion about this here.”

What this really means, of course, is that this isn’t up for debate, and we won’t be answering any questions. Which kind of misses the point of making this announcement on Quora, and makes you question the role of Twitter’s ‘communications director’. Oh, the wonderful irony.

It’s also worth noting how Twitter has once again enforced non-approved usage of their contextual trademark, and how quickly Ubermedia has complied. They didn’t really have much of a choice, of course, but it does set a dangerous precedent, one which I wrote about yesterday and Dave Winer has elaborated on. After all, they’re never going to suspend Twitter For iPhone, are they?

Gross has been very busy on Twitter making statements and replying to concerned tweets from the users of Ubermedia properties.

And Ubermedia themselves have been talking about being a ‘better partner’ with Twitter.

Still, this is more evidence of just how valuable the Quora platform has become as a reliable source of information for big news. Sure, it’s mostly tech at the moment, but that will change as new users flock to the system. And then perhaps Quora’s biggest question of all will be finally resolved – how do they stop themselves becoming the next Yahoo Answers? Even if that happens, at least they can take some comfort by not having to worry about being shut down by Twitter.

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