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Twitter updates TOS for app consistency [Developers]

Twitter, the social network that has skyrocketed out of control, has been bombarded with API connections and tweets being published and re-tweeted through exceptional growth. Ryan Sarver, who is a member of the Platform Team at Twitter, announced that they've updated their Terms of Service to help mainstream the Twitter experience and ensure users are connecting to (and using the) service in the same way.

With more people joining Twitter and accessing the service in multiple ways, a consistent user experience is more crucial than ever. As we talked about last April, this was our motivation for buying Tweetie and developing our own official iPhone app. It is the reason why we have developed official apps for the Mac, iPad, Android and Windows Phone, and worked with RIM on their Twitter for Blackberry app. As a result, the top five ways that people access Twitter are official Twitter apps. 

Still, our user research shows that consumers continue to be confused by the different ways that a fractured landscape of third-party Twitter clients display tweets and let users interact with core Twitter functions. For example, people get confused by websites or clients that display tweets in a way that doesn’t follow our design guidelines, or when services put their own verbs on tweets instead of the ones used on Twitter. Similarly, a number of third-party consumer clients use their own versions of suggested users, trends, and other data streams, confusing users in our network even more. Users should be able to view, retweet, and reply to @nytimes’ tweets the same way; see the same profile information about @whitehouse; and be able to join in the discussion around the same trending topics as everyone else across Twitter. 

More after the break.

What Sarver has said above I completely (and whole-heartedly) agree with. He has hit the nail bang on and the sheer amount of Twitter apps and solutions that are available today is staggering when taken into account that the wide range of products use alternated versions of standard Twitter functions (re-tweet, trends, streams, etc.) This causes not only confusion within the 'Twitterverse', but a lack of standards.

One could almost compare the state of Twitter to the Internet itself. Twitter is the world wide web with a wide number of standards and browsers - although the argument is present that no Twitter client is terrible enough to represent Internet Explorer 6. Focusing on developers themselves, Ryan explained that they need to introduce measures that maintain a high level of consistency across the network, further enhancing the user experience.

If you are an existing developer of client apps, you can continue to serve your user base, but we will be holding you to high standards to ensure you do not violate users’ privacy, that you provide consistency in the user experience, and that you rigorously adhere to all areas of our Terms of Service. We have spoken with the major client applications in the Twitter ecosystem about these needs on an ongoing basis, and will continue to ensure a high bar is maintained.

As we point out above, we need to move to a less fragmented world, where every user can experience Twitter in a consistent way. This is already happening organically - the number and market share of consumer client apps that are not owned or operated by Twitter has been shrinking. According to our data, 90% of active Twitter users use official Twitter apps on a monthly basis.

In contrast, the number of successful applications and companies in the Twitter ecosystem that focus on areas outside of the mainstream consumer client experience has grown quickly, and this is a trend we want to continue to support and help grow. Twitter will always be a platform on which a smart developer with a great idea and some cool technology can build a great company of his or her own. And, with record user growth, there has never been a better time to build into Twitter.

I was shocked with the volume of users that use official apps to connect to the network - 90% is a huge amount. So, to wrap everything up - should you maintain a level of consistency between the standard Twitter platform and your app (or service) you should be relatively unaffected by the TOS amendment..

We should wonder about the upcoming Twitter integration for Windows Phone 7 as to how it will be implemented, but I'm sure Microsoft will work closely with the developers at the social giant ensuring that the user experience they create will be exceptional, which is constantly present in the OS.

What do you think of this announcement, and will it affect you in any way?

Source: Google Groups

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