Rival Twitter aggregator apps square off

One third-party site, TweetMeme, claims that a yet-to-launch competitor called ReTweet isn't just similar--it's accusing ReTweet of ripping off its code.

There's some chest-thumping going on over at TweetMeme, a service that rounds up "retweets" of popular links--much like Digg buttons--and aggregates them into a central site. A rival site, ReTweet, just announced its impending launch, and TweetMeme thinks the two are too similar.

More specifically, according to a blog post by TweetMeme's Nick Halstead, ReTweet's "retweet button Javascript and the Wordpress plugin code seemed to have been directly copied from ours." He said that TweetMeme is "seeking further legal advice."

Halstead says he was spurred by a commenter on a TechCrunch article who claims to have found the matching code.

ReTweet is not yet open to the public but claims that its product will be "off-da-hook."

Avid Twitter users are undoubtedly familiar with "retweeting," but here's a rundown: A retweet is a Twitter post (or tweet) that spreads around another user's tweet by posting "RT," the username of the account that originally posted the tweet, and then the content of the tweet (sometimes truncated so as to not push it above the 140-character limit).

TweetMeme has gained popularity because it makes Digg-like buttons that allow site visitors to send out retweets of articles or blog posts they may be reading, and industry blogs like TechCrunch and Mashable have begun installing TweetMeme buttons to count the number of retweets that a link has pulled in.

Halstead says the liaisons between the two Twitter app manufacturers go back a few months. "I had actually been contacted by their COO Tyson Quick in April to ask if we would support their plan to get Twitter to support retweeting natively on Twitter," he wrote on the TweetMeme blog. "At the time I responded that I would think about it, in fact what I thought was that they were obviously trying to get us to help them promote a service that would at a later stage turn into a competitor, so I ignored it."

ReTweet has said that the similarities in question came from the fact that the matching code was open-source.

Parent company Mesiab Labs responded in a blog post and says it has modified some code: "After some prompt discussions with our development team, we discovered that, indeed, one of our developers had based a prototype button and widget on tweetmeme.com's publicly viewable scripts and some of the same open source WordPress code," the post read. "As a company that prides itself on innovation and cutting edge development, we were a bit embarassed by the blunder, and promptly removed the scripts. Despite being well within our rights to use the publicly licensed code, we believe we can do better."

Since ReTweet has yet to even launch, this will have to be one to watch.

This post was updated at 12:52 p.m. PT.

 

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