Twitter is forcing us to drop users ability to flattr creators by favoriting their tweets

We think that we’ve created a beautiful way to support creators by checking what you favorited on Twitter and letting you send a flattr to the writer of a tweet. Twitter did not.

So we are extremely sad to announce that from today (16th of April 2013) at noon CET we will remove the possibility to flattr tweets via the use of favorites, as per instructions from Twitter.

What we do
To enable support for flattring tweets we use two sources of data our users have created. The data about what a user favorited on Twitter, and the data about the tweet that was created. To do this we need a Twitter API key.

What Twitter said
Recently Twitter contacted us and told us that we are violating their API terms citing the second part of a clause (IV. Commercial Use, 2C. Advertising Around Twitter Content) saying “Your advertisements cannot resemble or reasonably be confused by users as a Tweet. For example, ads cannot have Tweet actions like follow, retweet, favorite, and reply. And you cannot sell or receive compensation for Tweet actions or the placement of Tweet actions on your Service.”

Twitter steampunkThis is a quite logical clause as it would stop companies to sell e.g. retweets and followers. It’s an understandable rule to keep the Twitter network clean but in this case the rule is strangely stomping out innovation on their platform.

However, the term Twitter call to is a term about advertisment that states that we can not be compensated. One can argue that we can not get money based on this clause. Even though we think that is not obvious.

So we suggested to forgo our 10%, to not be compensated as a service. This would mean that the flattr donation go from supporter to creator in it’s entirety. That did not help.

Twitter said: “Our API Terms of Service state that you cannot sell or receive compensation for Tweet actions or the placement of Tweet actions on your Service. This includes compensation attached to a Tweet Action sent to either a service or through a service to another user.”

The idea of not letting people use their favorites in the way they want is in no way is mentioned in the API terms. We feel that Twitter is reading things into their terms that is not there.

With Flattr you can not of course pay people to retweet, follow or favorite you. Flattr is the opposite, a way to voluntary reward someone for something that they have created. It’s not possible to use Flattr to pay creators to get a certain result.

Well, the reality is that this was not how Twitter read it. After mailing with Twitter’s “Platform Operations” about this Twitter replied to us that, “If your service compensates content creators … in a manner that is not attached to Tweet Actions, this would be in compliance with our API Terms of Service.” To favorite somebody is considered a Tweet Action.

We have tried to suggest different solutions asking for an exception to the terms, even forgoing our cut, etc, without any result. But, this does not mean that we will give up negotiating with them over this on behalf our users and also their users.

Twitter users create the favorite and just like they own their tweets they should own the result of their action. If you favorite something we argue that you should be able to decide what you want to do with the data you create. If you want to use it to give Flattr donations to other Twitter users you should be the one to make that decision.

What is happening now?
From noon today (the 16th of April 2013) at noon CET we are forced to remove the ability to support creators by favoriting their tweets. This to comply with their API terms of service.

We are working on other ways to support creators on Twitter, and will keep the discussions going with Twitter towards a more acceptable resolution.

Remember, you can still use our browser extension to flattr tweets.
And, there are still eight great services, a lot of blogs, and other awesome content you can flattr.

Adding YouTube!
Starting today we have enabled supporters to send microdonations to creators on YouTube! Just like on Soundcloud, Vimeo, Instagram etc you just like videos on YouTube to flattr them.

We are on a mission to help creators get paid for their work. It’s their work that makes the internet so valuable to us all.

96 thoughts on “Twitter is forcing us to drop users ability to flattr creators by favoriting their tweets

  1. Twitter doesn’t want Flattr so Flattr should go to more respectful and open networks instead. I think of Status.Net (identi.ca), Diaspora, Friendica,…
    These networks don’t have the user base of a Twitter but this kind of abusive situation would not happen there.

  2. I support Twitter’s actions. You are abusing the API and are acting outside the law when it comes to copyright. I used to use Flattr, but now I will not be using it, you guys are despicable and incorrigible.

    :(

  3. twitter is the perfect example of a company that got lucky once, and never innovated anything ever again, just co-opted from others.

  4. I feel bad for you but have to say I’m not surprised.

    Go ask 100 random people if you making money from others using their service makes sense. I didn’t even have to read this to conclude it does not.

    Why don’t you try forming a contract whereby Twitter gets a cut of your revenue? Though, it seems pretty clear they’re tighten the reigns on their UX and not sure how good of a contract you could get.

  5. I told you so… You should have supported identi.ca :-). Now the next logical step (as identi.ca will be gone in a short time) is to support pump.io, the successor of identi.ca. Free platforms FTW!

  6. Well, I could never work out what Twitter was supposed to be for, anyway. And I can’t stoop as low as Facebook. Have you asked Google how you could interface with Google+ yet? It’s where all the folk with giant braynes have gone…

  7. “I support Twitter’s actions. You are abusing the API and are acting outside the law when it comes to copyright. I used to use Flattr, but now I will not be using it, you guys are despicable and incorrigible.”
    How is this in ANY WAY SHAPE OR F***** FORM a violation of COPYRIGHT. Have you *EVER* looked at what Flattr is?

  8. Unfortunate as this may be, there’s a chance it may actually work out as being good for Flattr in the long run. There is something uncomfortably distasteful about the idea of being paid to tweet (which is one way you could frame this). It’s a bit different with say, starring a SoundCloud track or Liking a YouTube video, or a blog post, where there’s a more well-defined sense of “this is a piece of work which I support”.

    Enabling this for FB/Twitter on the other hand feels a bit more like “I like you, so I’m giving you money”, which may debase the “I like you” for some people. So maybe this saves Flattr from the law of unintended consequences. Not saying it’s a good thing, just that there’s a potential silver lining.

  9. Twitter is always reading things into their terms.
    Personally I wonder why people use Twitter.
    For some company’s it might be interesting to advertise, but for most company’s it’s like throwing your money away.
    We tried once, never again.

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