A company called UberTwitter that operates a suite of third-party Twitter applications--and hopes to do much more, with $17.5 million in new funding and the planned acquisition of popular client TweetDeck--has apparently run afoul of Twitter big-time. The microblogging service has suspended its apps, which include mobile clients UberTwitter, Echofon, and Twidroyd, as well as an advertising product, citing a number of violations.
"These violations include, but aren't limited to, a privacy issue with private Direct Messages longer than 140 characters, trademark infringement, and changing the content of users' Tweets in order to make money," a statement from Twitter explained. That's some pretty serious stuff.
"We've had conversations with UberMedia, the developer of these applications, about policy violations since April 2010, when they first launched under the name TweetUp--a term commonly used by Twitter users and a trademark violation," the statement continued. "We continue to be in contact with UberMedia and hope that they will bring the suspended applications into compliance with our policies soon."
The undercurrent here is that UberMedia is also positioning itself as a business threat to Twitter, seeing as it's one of the few owners of powerful Twitter applications that compete with the ones that Twitter itself has begun to offer, and therefore could actually dissuade users from Twitter's official products (). Twitter has for its release of official products that will likely quash those offered by independent players in its historically vibrant developer community, and its policing of third-party applications that include the word "twit" or "tweet" has had plenty of opponents as well.
But if UberMedia's tactics are as shady as Twitter seems to allege they are, that's a problem.
UberMedia CEO Bill Gross released a statement later on Friday to say that the apps are coming back: "We were immediately in touch with Twitter, and the changes they asked us to make were very small," he wrote. "As a result, we have completed the changes, and new apps are currently being posted to their respective stores. Twitter has assured us that as soon as those changes were complete, they would reactivate our applications."
But one of those changes addresses the trademark infringement that Twitter mentioned: UberTwitter's name. "Twitter also asked us to modify the name of UberTwitter," Gross wrote. "We began a process of changing the name three weeks ago by polling our users, and we've decided based on their input to change the product name to UberSocial, which we completed today."
This post was updated at 1:26 p.m. PT on Friday with comment from Bill Gross.