The following comes from Flattr cofounder and CEO Linus Olsson, who’s now dealing with the fallout from an abrupt Twitter pullout. Flattr focuses on decentralized, fan tipping of musicians (the other founder is Peter Sunde of the Pirate Bay).
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.”
This 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 cannot get money based on this clause. Even though we think that is not obvious.
So we suggested to forgo our 10 percent, to not be compensated as a service. This would mean that the flattr donation goes from supporter to creator in its entirety. That did not help.
“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 mentioned in the API terms. We feel that Twitter is reading things into their terms that is not there.
With Flattr you cannot 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.
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.
Image by [email protected], licensed under Creative Commons 2.0 Generic Attribution.