Twitter issues controversial API, gives developers six months to comply

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Twitter officially released the latest version of its API, instituting strict new guidelines limiting how third-party clients leverage the microblogging platform and giving developers six months to comply with the changes.

Twitter API version 1.1, first announced last month, introduces new user caps, display guidelines, on-device certification requirements and other restrictions designed to further the company's ongoing efforts to shift its third-party app ecosystem away from traditional microblogging clients and syndication services. New rules unveiled Wednesday include a halt on support for the RSS, XML and Atom content syndication technologies--Twitter will now require developers to adopt the JSON format instead.

Twitter also clarified new restrictions on developers requiring large numbers of user tokens, which allow their apps to pull in data. The company previously said client applications requiring more than 100,000 individual user tokens would require Twitter authorization. "The 100,000 user token limit applies only to the small set of clients replicating the core Twitter experience," Twitter Developer Relations Manager Jason Costa writes. "It does not apply to the majority of other applications in the broader ecosystem."

Twitter is giving developers until March 5, 2013 to update their applications to meet the new requirements. As of that date, endpoints in API version 1.0 will no longer be available, effectively shutting off the Twitter platform to apps that have not made the necessary changes.

Developers are petitioning the Federal Trade Commission to investigate the Twitter restrictions for potential antitrust violations. Those developers include David Barnard, founder of App Cubby, which removed its Tweet Speaker (a top app from October 2011) from Apple's (NASDAQ:AAPL) App Store hours after Twitter disclosed the changes. In a letter to the FTC, Barnard wrote "The announcement Twitter made regarding 3rd party apps on their ecosystem doesn't fit the typical definition of anti-trust, but will definitely lead to 'inferior service' and 'fewer choices for consumers.' I think it's worth looking into. It already forced me out of the market."

In July 2011, The Wall Street Journal reported the FTC's antitrust arm had launched an investigation into Twitter, with investigators also requesting information from UberMedia, the startup behind Twitter client applications like UberSocial, Echofon and Twidroyd. The probe followed Twitter's initial moves to limit third-party developer access to its platform. UberMedia confirmed making contact with the FTC, and said in a statement "We intend to fully comply with their request for information." Both Twitter and the FTC declined comment on the probe, remaining mum on the subject more than a year later.

For more:
- read this Twitter Developers Blog entry
- read this Mashable article

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