Twitter feels violated, suspends UberTwitter

Twitter says rival/partner UberMedia violated terms of service with UberTwitter, twidroyd mobile client apps

Twitter says it suspends "hundreds of applications" that violate its privacy and other API policies, but it was the microblogging site's suspension of the popular UberMedia UberTwitter, UberCurrent and twidroyd apps that has sparked a big social media to-do today.

The term "#ubertwitter" jumped to the front of the Twitter trending topics line ahead of "Queen Gaga" and the Radiohead-related "Thomas Yorke" and "Lotus Flower" as word spread of the popular mobile Twitter client's at least temporary shutdown (for good measure, ubertwitter also was among the top 10 Google searches this afternoon). UberTwitter users flooded Twitter with pleas -- often colorfully worded -- to sort things out.

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UberTwitter -- soon to be called UberSocial under a deal being worked out to appease Twitter -- initially was designed for RIM BlackBerry smartphones but also is available for Apple iPhones, whereas twidroyd is for Android devices.

Twitter explained its decision on a support blog:

Regardless of how you access Twitter, we are dedicated to making Twitter better, faster and more reliable for you. As part of this effort, we ask applications that work with Twitter to abide by a simple set of rules that we believe are in the interests of our users, and the health and vitality of the Twitter platform as a whole. We often take actions to enforce these rules.We have suspended UberTwitter and twidroyd for violating our policies.Every day, we suspend hundreds of applications that are in violation of our policies. Generally, these apps are used by a small number of users. We are taking the unusual step of sharing this with you because today's suspension may affect a larger number of users.We are committed to helping you continue to use Twitter during the disruption of these applications. You can download Twitter for Blackberry, Twitter for Android and other official Twitter apps here. You can also try our mobile web site or apps from other third-party developers. 

Twitter told CNNMoney that UberMedia's violations involved "a privacy issue with private Direct messages longer than 140 characters, trademark infingement, and changing the content of users' Tweets in order to make money."

UberMedia, once called PostUp and later TweetUp, hatched from Idealab, which is run by entrepreneur Bill Gross. The company has been busy of late, as it bought social media site Mixx earlier this year and is in the process of buying TweetDeck. It also just raised $17.5 million in a venture round led by Accel Partners.

Fittingly, Gross has been keeping UberMedia app users apprised of the situation with Twitter via...Twitter.

From the @Bill_Gross Twitter account he wrote:

Twitter has requested that we make some small changes to our clients, which we are doing right now, & we will be back live again asap.


UberTwitter & Twidroyd users: We have made the changes Twitter requested. As soon as Twitter reactivates, you will be live again. Thx!

Gross, the CEO of UberTwitter, told TechCrunch that the shutdown by Twitter "Took us by surprise."

A precient blog post earlier this week by Lauren Dugan on All Twitter, posed the question: "Is UberMedia Headed for a Clash with Twitter?"

UberMedia, like other members of the Twitter ecosystem, walk a fine line between competing with Twitter as it expands its offerings and benefiting Twitter by making its platform more useful.While some disparage Twitter as a waste of time for people who want to share info about what they ate for lunch with the masses, Twitter has also become big business and has been used for downright serious purposes such as communications among protesters and the rest of the world during unrest in the Middle East recently. Reports have surfaced recently that companies like Google and Facebook have pursued buying Twitter for as much as $10 billion.

Follow me on Twitter, regardless of which client app you use, at @alphadoggs

Copyright © 2011 IDG Communications, Inc.

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