Unfortunate: Twitter Forces Flattr To Stop Its Twitter Integration

from the well-that-sucks dept

Just a few weeks ago, we wrote about how Flattr had integrated with services like Twitter and Instagram to make it incredibly easy to support content creators (including us!) by just favoriting a tweet. Not surprisingly, in the first month after that went into effect, we saw a boost in revenue from Flattr. Unfortunately, Flattr has now announced that Twitter has forced the company to stop this integration.

Flattr had been using the Twitter API to figure out what people had favorited, and had been gathering data about the specific tweets. However, Twitter told the company that it was violating section IV. 2 C from its API terms. That term says that:
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.
It's that last part where the trouble came in. Of course, it seems clear that that particular line in the terms of service was designed for situations where people are "selling" tweets or something similar. Not for cases where a service like Flattr is helping people make money from supporters. In response, Flattr even said that it would waive its standard 10% fee on any Flattrs that come via tweets. Twitter told them it wasn't good enough. Now, you can argue that "rules are rules," but rules need to make some sense. And it's unclear what kind of sense this makes. There's nothing about the way in which Flattr is using Twttier that is negative for Twitter. It seems like a really nice and useful addition. Obviously, we're somewhat biased, because it also helped us make a few bucks (not much, but some), but I can't see how it makes sense for Twitter to block this functionality.


Reader Comments (rss)

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  1. This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
     
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    out_of_tha_blue (profile), Apr 16th, 2013 @ 8:21pm

    I'm a 14 year old in a basement, and I support CISPA.

     

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  2.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 16th, 2013 @ 8:34pm

    Re:

    Cute, but irrelevant.

     

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  3.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 16th, 2013 @ 9:01pm

    Possible benefits of Flattr:
    -Another community based revenue service directly benefiting content creators.
    -An incentive for existing industries and media personalities to improve their social correspondence and direct community involvement.
    -A means of supporting an individual/organization/etc. directly with little hassle.
    -A way for people to budget community support and spread that support wider than they otherwise would have had the time/motivation to.

    Twitter's View:
    -Someone is using our service in a financial manner and we don't own them. Put a stop to it.

    I don't care what people say, the problem with society isn't a lack of control, its an overreach of it...

    As usual, the view seems to be 'Innovation is the enemy, unless we're the ones doing it!'.

     

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  4. This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
     
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    out_of_the_blue, Apr 16th, 2013 @ 9:23pm

    Justify for me, Degreed Economist, Flatter's "standard 10% fee".

    THAT is ridiculous, for collecting a few clicks -- plenty of sites do that without charge -- and a few automated transfers. It's unjustifiable. So outrageous that loan sharks blush.

    Yes, relevant to topic because no one should ever get past such a huge question: where the HELL do they get the chutzpah to charge TEN PERCENT for doing almost nothing? Mike's topic here isn't even ten percent of the real story!

    And I've been meaning to note the rampant and frequent mis-use here of "unfortunate". Mike, that means a bad outcome of chance, not just any and every event you deem bad, and particularly NOT when done purposefully.

    Am I going to get to the instant topic? ... Let me see. -- WELL, obviously, Mike, you need to school Twitter on how to run that biz too. They're doing it all wrong!



    ^^^ My clone. Heh, heh. I'm unrivaled on this or any other web site: how many of you are thought important enough to either mock or copy?




    Take a loopy tour of Techdirt.com! You always end up same place!
    http://techdirt.com/
    You've found the site of Internet Quipper Mike "Streisand Effect" Masnick!
    17:22:03[t-485-3]

     

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  5.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 16th, 2013 @ 9:25pm

    Re: Justify for me, Degreed Economist, Flatter's "standard 10% fee".

    Feel free to open Bluer, charge a 1% fee, and waste what little worth you have on that venture.

     

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  6.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 16th, 2013 @ 11:19pm

    Twitter is not my life, I don't make money from it, so I don't care. If you don't like what twitter is doing by all means stop using twitter.

     

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  7.  
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    ChrisH, Apr 16th, 2013 @ 11:21pm

    API Terms?

    Didn't we already learn from Google v Oracle that one doesn't need permission to use an API because under copyright only implementations are covered, not specifications. On what basis can Twitter prevent someone else from making an app that integrates with their service?

     

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  8.  
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    PaulT (profile), Apr 17th, 2013 @ 12:20am

    Re: Re:

    That's the silly spoof troll. The real irrelevant moron is below.

     

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  9.  
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    PaulT (profile), Apr 17th, 2013 @ 12:26am

    Re: Justify for me, Degreed Economist, Flatter's "standard 10% fee".

    Funny, you whine about a service charging 10% for offering their service, but you don't blink an eye when corporate incumbents take nearly 100% of the royalties away from the artists they're supposed to support - or try to shut down these kinds of avenues so that the people they're supporting don't even get the 90% of revenue they're offered.

    By the way, do you have a breakdown of Flattr's development and running costs, or is the assumption that they do virtually nothing (and/or have no overheads) just another one of those things you pull from your ass because you don't have the knowledge to think things through?

     

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  10.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 17th, 2013 @ 12:57am

    Re:

    It connects to twitter servers running the api. Twitter may not have an monopoly on the api, but the servers/site are thir property

     

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    Zakida Paul (profile), Apr 17th, 2013 @ 1:15am

    Re: Re: Justify for me, Degreed Economist, Flatter's "standard 10% fee".

    That, my friend, is the loopy tour of blue's warped little mind.

     

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  12.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 17th, 2013 @ 2:53am

    Re:

    Google vs. Oracle was about Google implementing a separate piece of software that had the same API as Java. Totally different situation.

    If Flattr wanted to create a twitter clone and duplicate the Twitter API, Google vs. Oracle says that they can.

    But this is Twitter controlling who can call its API which they are perfectly able to do. It's nothing to do with copyright, it's simply twitter's right to decide who they provide a service to.

     

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  13.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 17th, 2013 @ 6:42am

    Re: Justify for me, Degreed Economist, Flatter's "standard 10% fee".

    the mind-blowing angry insanity on display here makes me go D:

     

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  14.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 17th, 2013 @ 7:21am

    Re: Justify for me, Degreed Economist, Flatter's "standard 10% fee".

    They provided a service.

    People designated that service worth the proposed investment.

    Fee justified.

     

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  15.  
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    average_joe, Apr 17th, 2013 @ 7:54am

    your talking nonsense Out_of_the_blue

     

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  16.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 17th, 2013 @ 8:23am

    Same thing happened to the bitcoin tip bot.

    https://twitter.com/btctip

     

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  17.  
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    Ninja (profile), Apr 17th, 2013 @ 9:31am

    If Flattr even went as far as to waive the 10% cut what is the problem then? What's the difference between posting the tweet in a blog page and accepting donations? It's not like you are charging for anything, it's people throwing money your way.

    And if you think about it Twitter does exact that, it monetizes over all the tweeting.

     

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  18.  
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    Suzanne Lainson (profile), Apr 17th, 2013 @ 11:03am

    Collecting without approval

    As I recall, Flattr collects money in the name of people but doesn't get that money to them unless they ask for it. Is that correct?

    Therefore, I am not sure Twitter does have an obligation to allow a company to say it is representing people it isn't actually representing.

     

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  19.  
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    Ninja (profile), Apr 17th, 2013 @ 12:29pm

    Re: Collecting without approval

    Flattr does not collect money for anyone. Your understanding is completely flawed. They allow people to set up a monthly pool of money that is distributed evenly among everything that this person flattred (similar to clicking Like or +1 except that this generates income to the receiving end of the +1).

    When they decided to integrate with Twitter there was a problem: sometimes people flattred tweets and accounts that did not use Flattr. So instead of keeping the money to themselves Flattr SAVED that money so these people could claim that.

    Since it's bound to the Twitter account then the risk of being misappropriated is likely zero.

    Flattr never stated they represent anyone.

     

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  20.  
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    Suzanne Lainson (profile), Apr 17th, 2013 @ 12:45pm

    Re: Re: Collecting without approval

    Flattr does not collect money for anyone. Your understanding is completely flawed. They allow people to set up a monthly pool of money that is distributed evenly among everything that this person flattred (similar to clicking Like or +1 except that this generates income to the receiving end of the +1).

    When they decided to integrate with Twitter there was a problem: sometimes people flattred tweets and accounts that did not use Flattr. So instead of keeping the money to themselves Flattr SAVED that money so these people could claim that.


    But you are saying what I said. The money goes to Flattr in the name of someone. If that someone doesn't know about it, the money is "saved" for them. But Flattr gets the money until it is claimed, right?

     

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  21.  
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    Ninja (profile), Apr 18th, 2013 @ 3:28am

    Re: Re: Re: Collecting without approval

    No, money doesn't go to Flattr in their names. Money goes from Flattr towards them. Flattr allows people to make micro payments based on how many blogs, blog posts, Tweets, songs etc. You don't have to think what you are flattring much like you don't think when you +1 or Like something. The difference is that your "Like" has value. You can flattr virtually anything, from a product in a page to the company itself, blogs, facebook pages, instagram feeds or single pictures, songs, the artist, the album (and you can do it at the same time). In the end of the month Flattr will get the ammount you chose to distribute (it can be anything really), divide by the number of flattrs you gave and send the money. So if I choose to have a monthly wage of $10 and I click on 3 Techdirt articles, techdirt itself and mike once each, 4 articles in torrent freak and, let's say, ernesto (TF writer) then Techdirt as a whole will receive $5 (if Mike has a separate account he gets $1, if the writers of TD have separate accounts they may receive the flattr for their articles) and TorrentFreak will get $5 (same as TD).

    Flattr publicly said what was going to happen and how and they even put the main Twitter accounts that received more 'flattrs' and thus more money in their front pages. I think this is much much better than simply saying "oh well, they don't have a Flattr account so we'll just keep the money" or simply splitting that money with other flattrd.

    Is it clearer now?

     

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  22.  
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    Suzanne Lainson (profile), Apr 18th, 2013 @ 9:49am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Collecting without approval

    So if I choose to have a monthly wage of $10 and I click on 3 Techdirt articles, techdirt itself and mike once each, 4 articles in torrent freak and, let's say, ernesto (TF writer) then Techdirt as a whole will receive $5 (if Mike has a separate account he gets $1, if the writers of TD have separate accounts they may receive the flattr for their articles) and TorrentFreak will get $5 (same as TD).

    Yes, I got this the first time I read about Flattr. However, it appears that if someone you select doesn't have a Flattr account, that money doesn't go to them. We are still saying the same thing, but are interpreting it differently. The payer attempts to give the money to someone, but if Flattr doesn't have a contact for the person being selected, that person doesn't get the money.

     

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  23.  
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    ChrisH, Apr 18th, 2013 @ 10:42am

    Re: Re:

    Got it. Thanks.

     

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  24.  
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    Martin ThŲrnkvist, Apr 22nd, 2013 @ 7:51am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Collecting without approval

    Suzanne: we are not holding onto money for creators we donít know the owner of.

    When you flattr a creator on YouTube, Soundcloud, Instagram, Github, Flickr, Vimeo, 500px or App.net that hasnít yet signed up to Flattr that microdonation will be an unclaimed flattr.

    Unclaimed flattrs are not be taken from your monthly budget, until they sign up. The month the creators signs up, is the month that flattr will be a part of your budget. The creator will then get the money on the 10th the coming month.

    http://blog.flattr.net/2013/03/when-you-flattr-somebody-that-isnt-a-flattr-user-unclaimed- flattrs/

    Martin
    www.flattr.com

     

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  25.  
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    Suzanne Lainson (profile), Apr 22nd, 2013 @ 8:21am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Collecting without approval

    Unclaimed flattrs are not be taken from your monthly budget, until they sign up. The month the creators signs up, is the month that flattr will be a part of your budget. The creator will then get the money on the 10th the coming month.

    Yes, I get that. But I was suggesting a reason Twitter might not want the service. A fan can flattr someone, but if that someone hasn't indicated he/she wants to be part of the service, then flattr is being connected to someone who hasn't asked to participate.

    But let me clarify, then. You're saying that if I flattr thousands of people who haven't signed up for flattr, then you aren't taking any money from me? I DON'T need to pay you if no one I want to flattr is using your service?

    Or are you saying that I DO need to pay you, but the money doesn't go to any people if they haven't signed up for the service and it sits in an escrow account?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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