For Meerkat, the live streaming video mobile app that’s taken the digerati by storm the past two weeks, being able to automatically connect users to their Twitter followers is essential. So by cutting off that access today in the wake of announcing it had bought a competing app, Twitter has dealt Meerkat a tough blow.
The move to cut off access to its so-called social graph, which was first reported by BuzzFeed, means that Meerkat posts will not automatically push notifications to users’ Twitter followers. It came the same day Twitter announced it had bought Periscope, an as-yet-unlaunched live-streaming app. It was also the first day of the South by Southwest Interactive (SXSW) festival, which is being held in Austin, Texas.
Because it was the first day of SXSW, during which apps are frequently launched, a third live-streaming app, Stre.am, did so today. That launch was first reported by VentureBeat.
A Twitter spokesperson told VentureBeat that, “We are limiting [Meerkat’s] access to Twitter’s social graph, consistent with our internal policy. Their users will still be able to distribute videos on Twitter and login with their Twitter credentials.”
Twitter’s decision is clearly meant to give Periscope an advantage, since its users will no doubt have access to Twitter’s social graph. If Twitter doesn’t reverse the change, that will mean Meerkat will have to hope its users care enough to organically build a following.
Meerkat did get a nice running start before the change, and was certainly the tech world’s darling since it launched in late February. But as investor Hunter Walk put it tonight, “the [Meerkat] Suggested User List just became more important,” meaning the app will have to give its users an easy way to find interesting people to follow.
But Meerkat remains defiant. In a series of tweets this evening, founder Ben Rubin said that “Twitter’s move here shows how significant Meerkat has become. This is a small bump for Meerkat — a product built in only 8 weeks by one person — and a sad day for the Twitter developer community, who build amazing products that help us connect with each other. And lastly, this is just the beginning for Meerkat. The revolution will be live streamed.”
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