Everyone in Silicon Valley is talking about Twitter’s new rules for developers. Here’s the thing: Pretty much everyone in tech or media is a Twitter developer these days.
Almost everyone’s website or mobile app has some level of integration with Twitter, whether it’s a button to tweet a story or a link from a user profile to his or her Twitter account. Twitter’s even built into Apple’s operating system for iPhones and iPads.
Developing on top of Twitter no longer means building a client for posting and reading tweets or some other kind of specialised app.
Most of Twitter’s new rules affect developers whose software constantly pings Twitter’s infrastructure for updated content. It’s completely reasonable for Twitter to place limits on that access and change those limits from time to time.
But those aren’t the only changes. Twitter is changing its “Display Guidelines” into “Display Requirements.” Some of those rules—particularly the ones that prohibit mixing tweets with other forms of content from around the Web—seem like they have noxious implications.
Marco Arment, creator of the popular read-it-later service Instapaper, spelled out some of them. For example: Can people simply quote a tweet? Twitter’s rules for including a logo and other interactive features seem to prohibit that, he argues:
I’m pretty sure this means that I can’t just display a tweet as a link and blockquote when I want to quote it here.
That actually seems unlikely. Twitter has styled itself as a champion of free speech and a friend to media organisations. So it would go against Twitter’s cultural grain to crack down on people who went around quoting tweets without the right styling.
The rules, after all, apply to developers, not ordinary users.
But ah, there’s the rub, right?
For we are all Twitter developers now.