The whole business about Twitter and its API was not big news last week when it erupted. Twitter had already clearly telegraphed the end of its developer program, to anyone who cared, a couple of years ago.
What they're doing with content though does much more damage to the open Internet. It's shameful for their stockholders and partners to profit this way. I hope by writing this to influence them to put pressure on Twitter to stop this practice.
What are they doing? Well, if you link to a story on one of their partner sites, you don't have to click on the link to read the story. It opens directly in the Twitter client. No context change. It's a feature users will like, and they will ask people whose sites don't do this, why they don't.
And by writing this piece, that's critical of Twitter, I'm pretty much guaranteeing that my software never gets this feature. I would be much smarter, as a business person, to praise them for their cleverness, and behind the scenes beg them to make me a partner.
So what does this say about the independence of news organizations that are viewed by Twitter as a partner?
I got a ton of heat from tech insiders and profiteers when I crticized Twitter for inflating the follower counts of friends of the company and its founders. The whole RSS is XXX campaign by TechCrunch was almost certainly payback for that (it didn't work, of course, TechCrunch still has an RSS feed, and RSS chugs right along).
Tech is a company town. VCs praise other VCs and the users aren't given a seat at the table. Critics are pushed aside. That is, until it blows up, as it surely will. You can't hold down the Internet, you can't capture it in your silo and milk it for all its worth. But short-term you can do a lot of damage. That's what Twitter and its VCs and partners are doing.