Twitter Co-Founder Says Developer Policy Wasn’t ‘All Figured Out’

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Twitter co-founders Evan Williams and Biz Stone say they want to think carefully about how to handle developer relations.

Twitter’s stricter approach to third-party software developers was not part of some master plan, according to company co-founder and board member Evan Williams, referring to policy changes that would block once-popular apps.

“We didn’t have that all figured out with Twitter, I will go on the record admitting,” Williams said at the TechCrunch Disrupt conference today. “Every Web application has an API. It’s just expected. But I think you have to be really conscious about what you’re trying to do with it and why.”

When Twitter recently made changes to its software rules, developers accused the company of pushing them aside after benefiting from their support early on. Twitter, which is starting to increase the placement of ads in its social network, said it would shut out apps that replace the need for users to directly access parts of the micro-blogging service.

The company has already shut off Instagram, Tumblr and LinkedIn from accessing parts of its application programming interface, or API.

At the same conference earlier this week, Reid Hoffman, the executive chairman of LinkedIn, said, “It’s not fair to developers.” And Tumblr described Twitter’s recent move in a statement as “upsetting.”

Williams spoke at the conference today with Biz Stone, another Twitter founder, to promote their new Web publishing service called Medium. Building a developer platform for that product is “intriguing,” but it’s not currently a priority, Williams said. If they do build a platform similar to Twitter’s, “We want to do a better job,” he said, without elaborating on how that would be implemented.

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