With “great value” comes “great responsibility” and rather than face up to a platform’s responsibility to share value with its partners, Twitter is choosing to block access to anybody that might potentially keep it from maximizing all possible revenues. Back in June, when Twitter CEO Dick Costolo said, “What you’ll see us do more and more as a platform is allow third parties to build into Twitter,” it seemed like he was talking about APIs and client functionality. What he was actually talking about was money. Twitter may continue to be a platform that third party developers can monetize, but only insofar as they build into Twitter itself, perhaps a bit like how it works on Facebook. That’s not going so well for Facebook’s third party developers lately, but at least in Facebook’s case we know what the platform is. Twitter’s new card system is still very much a moving target.
Insofar as Twitter is clearly moving toward an identity as a pseudo-traditional media company, I hadn’t fully appreciated Twitter’s status as a so-called “moving target.”
For as long as Dick Costolo and his team continue to drop hints, progressively update APIs, and slowly deprecate third party access, the nature of Twitter as a platform is fairly unclear. I and others will spend plenty of time conjecturing about the potential state Twitter may settle upon, but the truth is that we truly do not know.
And yet, despite the pleas for sanity from even the most affected of people, the immaterial and undecided state of the platform, and the shrouded endgame we all choose to guess about, I tend to derive a great deal of negativity from Twitter’s latest movements.
Akin to a spinning top losing its momentum and erratically shaking and shuddering to a halt, Twitter’s behavior — albeit in constant flux — is certainly not deserving of our generous pause. The company is unquestionably acting in a decidedly aggressive and self-destructive manner and, regardless of its long-term intentions and justifications therein, it has warranted our negative stares.