- Matt Weinberger
At Twitter’s annual Flight event today, newly-installed Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey confessed that the company made a big mistake back in 2012 when it shut down access to developers.
“Somewhere along the line, our relationship with developers got a little bit complicated, a little bit confusing, a little bit unpredictable,” Dorsey says. “And we want to come to you today, and first and foremost apologize for the confusion.”
Earlier this year, Twitter came under fire for shutting down a service called “Politwoops,” known for archiving the deleted tweets of political figures, for making what it called improper use of its data.
Dorsey called out the Politwoops situation as an example of that “confusion.”
And way back in 2012, the still-very-new Twitter shut down third-party access to its main API – meaning that it completely killed the nascent, but growing, market for third-party Twitter clients and other apps that took advantage of the social network to power their apps.
“Fundamentally, Twitter is a simple messaging service,” Dorsey says. “What’s unique about Twitter is how people have made it their own.”
Dorsey notes that some of Twitter’s best features, from the concept of the hasthag and the use of “@” to mark a user name, to Marc Andreessen’s famed Tweetstorms, have come from outside users who loved the service and wanted to make it better.
“All of these became cultural movements. So much so that other services had to implement them,” Dorsey says.
And so, Dorsey says that under his leadership, Twitter will work to “serve this world in the right way” and win back developer trust.
To that end, Twitter made a series of announcements today aimed at winning developers over to building on top of its platform, including updates to the Twitter Fabric identity service and popular Crashlytics bug logging tool, to help app-makers build and monetize their apps.
And if you Tweet at Dorsey with the hashtag “#HelloWorld,” he says that the team will listen to developer feedback.
“We can’t do this alone. We need your help,” Dorsey says.
At least one high-profile developer is encouraged by Twitter’s talk of turning a new leaf:
Arjan El Fassed, director of Open State Foundation, which launched Politwoops, said Dorsey’s statement “seems to inidicate a possible change in Twitter’s position on Politwoops.”
“We look forward to reach out to Twitter and restore access to Twitter’s API again soon so that we can continue to enable the public to hold elected public officials accountable for their public statements,” El Fassed said.