Twitter Suspends Rival's Mobile Apps

Twitter on Friday suspended three major mobile third-party applications for allegedly violating the company's use policies.

The social networking company announced in a blog post that it cut off UberTwitter, which is for the Blackberry platform, Twidroyd, for Android devices, and UberCurrent, which can be used on iPhones and iPads . All three are owned by UberMedia, which has been in the news recently because it's planning to acquire popular Twitter client TweetDeck.

To complicate matters, TweetDeck competes directly with Twitter's Web and mobile clients.

"Today, we suspended several applications, including UberTwitter, Twidroyd and UberCurrent, which have violated Twitter policies and trademarks in a variety of ways," wrote Twitter spokeswoman Carolyn Penner, in an e-mail to Computerworld. "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."

Penner added that Twitter has been talking with UberMedia about the violations since April. "We continue to be in contact with UberMedia and hope that they will bring the suspended applications into compliance with our policies soon," she said.

UberMedia did not respond to a request for comment.

Dan Olds, an analyst with The Gabriel Consulting Group, said Twitter is dropping a bomb on UberMedia with these allegations.

"Users are highly sensitive to privacy violations and companies trying to make money off of their personal info," he added. "Twitter hitting UberMedia with that puts a damned big dent in UberMedia's reputation. The charge that UberMedia is actually changing customer tweets to make money is particularly damaging -- if it's true."

When the news hit Friday afternoon, users quickly took to Twitter to vent their frustrations. And much of that frustration was aimed at Twitter itself.

TimBledsoe tweeted, "I feel a great disturbance ... as if millions of voices cried out and were suddenly silenced. #ubertwitter #twidroyd #failwhale @twitter."

To exacerbate the situation, Twitter was promoting its own TwitterMobile, an application for using the microblogging site on mobile devices, under its top trends on the site's home page.

And users were quick to notice. Poncho_fletch tweeted, "So #ubertwitter gets shutdown and now #twittermobile is promoted #tt!! Cant knock the hustle!!"

Olds noted that while users shouldn't be too angry since they have many alternatives to the suspended applications, this move could hurt UberMedia.

"At this point, being suspended by Twitter is a nightmare-like scenario for UberMedia." He said. "They've collected a bunch of twitter-centric clients and now they're banned? Ouch. Twitter holds all the cards here and has the power. The longer Ubermedia is banned from Twitter, the less valuable they become. "

However, Olds added that the suspensions could come back to bite Twitter.

"With this move, Twitter is causing quite a bit of consternation in the user base," he said. "Twitter is going to need to back up their allegations with facts, and soon. What Twitter doesn't want is for this to look like they're banning UberMedia on trumped-up charges in order to give an advantage to Twitter's own mobile apps."

Sharon Gaudin covers the Internet and Web 2.0, emerging technologies, and desktop and laptop chips for Computerworld. Follow Sharon on Twitter at @sgaudin or subscribe to Sharon's RSS feed . Her e-mail address is sgaudin@computerworld.com .

Read more about web 2.0 and web apps in Computerworld's Web 2.0 and Web Apps Topic Center.

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