Is Twitter being paranoid about controlling its information, or is it positioning itself for a big revenue opportunity?
Business Insider reported yesterday that several third-party data providers who report on Twitter’s usage numbers were suddenly unable to do so.
Twitter data provider Twopcharts told Business Insider that its access to the Twitter data firehose had been suspended. It currently displays this message on its website:
Twopcharts apparent crime was to publish usage figures for Twitter that didn’t gel with what the company was telling its investors. For example, when Twitter CEO Dick Costolo said the platform now had 255 monthly active users, it was Twopcharts that revealed that this was a fraction of the nearly 1 billion people who had signed up for Twitter, showing that 75% of users ultimately abandoned the service. It’s certainly in Twitter’s interest to control all the numbers about Twitter, especially now that it’s public and has to answer to Wall Street. It can’t afford to have data about itself that it can’t have some degree of control over.
The other, slightly less evil explanation is that Twitter doesn’t want to keep giving its data away for free. Information about Twitter users, their activity and numbers, is valuable to advertisers and researchers. By closing its API to external platforms, Twitter gets to control that information and put a price on it.
For now, if you’re one of the select platforms in Twitter’s Certified Partner program, you’ll continue to receive access to Twitter’s API. After all, those platforms are big revenue generators for Twitter in terms of getting their clients to place ads and promote their accounts. But with Twitter now offering its own in-depth analytics and marketing tools, it’s definitely a possibility that it could start competing with the same marketing platforms it is partnering with.