Business Insider is running a report claiming “Twitter is under federal investigation” from the Federal Trade Commission. This is related to how the company has dealt with third-party apps: acquiring things like Tweetie and TweetDeck turning them into proprietary apps, shutting down third-party Twitter ad networks, and launching its own photo/video sharing functionality, effectively rendering third-party apps that provide such functionality useless.
Twitter has ruffled developers feathers quite a bit in the last year or so, but is this all enough to warrant regulatory scrutiny? Neither Twitter nor the FTC has commented on the matter.
So far, the only other publication I see talking about this is TheNextWeb, which is questioning the authenticity of the report. “I’m playing the role of skeptic here, though, because much of what is being reported as the cause of the investigation doesn’t make sense,” writes the publication’s Brad McCarty. “If we look back at the case of UberSocial, the app was accused of not only violating trademark with its name, but also of mishandling how it sent direct messages that were over 140 characters in length.”
Nicholas Carlson at Business Insider shares a quote from Bill Gross, CEO of UberMedia (operator of UberSocial), who also once launched TweetUp as a Twitter ad network. The quote is: “We have been contacted by the FTC and are in the process of responding to their requests.”
Carlson also says another app maker said they were advised by their lawyer not to talk about it.
The report does follow another from GigaOm, that Twitter is set to launch a site for developers designed to provide developers with more information, and presumably communication. Carlson thinks this is related.
Update: Forbes has put out an article basically saying the BI article is full of it.