Twitter is no longer a platform, it’s a service

Twitter has broken off negotiations with DataSift over access to its "firehose" of data. It's another milestone in the closing up of a once open platform.

For all its popularity amongst the the startup world, Twitter is a curious beast. Once a deeply open platform, whose success was built on an open API which allowed many developers to build great apps that allowed use of Twitter to grow rapidly. Those days are very long gone.

The latest victim of the ever-shifting Twitter business model is DataSift,a company that captures and analyses data from social streams, making it useful to businesses. Their very long-standing relationship with Twitter is coming to an end, as founder Nick Halstead explained in who a blogpost last week:

For several months now, we’ve been working hard to renew our contract with Twitter. The negotiations were promising. At several points, we felt a deal was imminent. However, we no longer believe that a renewal of our partnership is likely.

DataSift’s customers will be able to access Twitter’s firehose of data as normal until August 13th, 2015. After that date all the customers will need to transition to other providers to receive Twitter data.

Not a surprise given Twitter’s general move to bring everything in-house, perhaps, but still clearly a shock to some.

The affair, from social buttons to social data

TweetMeme buttonThe company that became DataSift actually invented the social sharing button as we known them today with a product called TweetMeme, whose look you can see to the right. That was shutdown when Twitter released its own buttons.

Since then, DataSift has been one of the very few companies with reselling rights to the Twitter firehose – the raw data produced by the service. It competitors have either been acquired by Twitter, or had their access removed – which has led to legal action.

DataSift have done the right thing – and prepared for this day a long time ago:

Thank you for all the words of support, but in case it hasn’t come across clearly enough – we’re fine. Our business model has never relied on access to Twitter data. We’ve built a robust big data processing platform, which is data source-agnostic, capable of dealing with billions of interactions a day from 20 other social and news networks we’re working with

In particular, one recent partnership should make a big difference:

This is also the very reason, we are now working with Facebook, the undisputed largest source of social data on earth, on providing the ecosystem with Facebook topic data.

Facebook is, of course, a much, much bigger service than Twitter, and that gives DataSift a very compelling offering. But it’s still odd seeing Facebook become more open even as Twitter grows more closed. Even five years ago that would have been hard to believe.

It remains a business’s right to choose who it does business with, of course. But DataSift is just the latest in a long line of businesses who have found Twitter a slippery partner.

Robert Scoble, who has spoken at NEXT in the past, made a heart-felt post to that effect on Facebook – which spawned an interesting discussion:

While walking around Coachella I was talking with Loic Le Meur yesterday about things he has learned about business. He…

Posted by Robert Scoble on Saturday, 11 April 2015