Twitter has just posted a help document titled “I’m Having Problems Logging In to UberTwitter or twidroyd” that gives little hope for an immediate fix: turns out the company has outright suspended both apps among the most popular Twitter apps for the BlackBerry / iPhone and Android platforms, respectively for “violating [its] policies.” They go on to say that they suspend hundreds of apps on a daily basis for policy violations, but decided to call out these two in particular because of the high number of users potentially affected.
UberMedia explains “privacy issue” and “changing Tweets to make money” accusations below.
Twitter shut down the three UberMedia-owned apps for “violating our policies”, the company said in a short statement on its official blog.
This is big news in itself. UberMedia, which recently acquired UK-born TweetDeck, carries more than 20% of tweets sent daily, across the globe according to Seesmic founder Loic Le Meur. It could easily be construed as a vituperative broadside against Ubermedia with the backdrop of Twitter heavily promoting its own alternative mobile apps.
A fuller statement emailed to the press, however, sheds just a tantalising fraction of light on the ban. Twitter said (with our emphasis):
“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.”
UberMedia has since resubmitted its apps, with the UberTwitter BlackBerry app re-emerging as UberSocial. Twitter doesn’t like the marks “Tweet” or “Twitter” being used by third parties, we know that. And it could well be that today was simply a warning shot across UberMedia‘s bow on the eve (or aftermath) of its big TweetDeck acquisition.But how do you explain the “privacy issue” with direct messages? Or “changing the content of users’ tweets in order to make money”? At the time of posting, we’ve not had any clarification from the Bill Gross-fronted company, despite numerous requests for comment and an exclusive fireside chat with TechCrunch.
Gross said in UberMedia’s statement:
“We were immediately in touch with Twitter, and the changes they asked us to make were very small. As a result, we have completed the changes, and new apps are currently being posted to their respective stores. Twitter has assured us that as soon as those changes were complete, they would reactivate our applications.
“Twitter also asked us to modify the name of UberTwitter. We began a process of changing the name three weeks ago by polling our users, and we’ve decided based on their input to change the product name to UberSocial, which we completed today.”
Gross has just offered a fuller comment on each of Twitter’s accusations. Writing on Quora (where else?), the longtime entrepreneur explains:
“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.”