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Twitter-Instagram feud escalates as photos show up wonky

Instagram disabled its Twitter cards integration today, which means that photos appear oddly cropped on Twitter. Instagram's CEO pledges that his company will remain integrated with Twitter in some form, though.

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Instagram CEO Kevin Systrom speaks at the LeWeb conference in Paris. Stephen Shankland/CNET
The Twitter-Instagram feud continues, with Instagram today disabling a feature that allows photos to be properly displayed on Twitter's Web site and apps.

Twitter noted in a status update today that Instagram disabled its Twitter cards integration. What that means is photos from Instagram are difficult to view and appear cropped or off center.

Instagram Chief Executive Kevin Systrom, meanwhile, said today at the LeWeb conference in Paris that while the relationship with Twitter is changing, Instagram will remain integrated with Twitter in some form.

He noted that the move today, while confusing to some, is the right step for Instagram, which wants more people to view images via Instagram's site instead of through other sites.

"Really it's about where do you go to consume that image, to interact with that image. We want that to be on Instagram," Systrom said at the LeWeb conference today. "What we realized over time is we really needed to have an awesome Web presence."

Systrom added that the change was his decision, not an order from Facebook, whose acquisition of Instagram closed about three months ago.

"This decision is definitely coming from me," he said. "This is not a case of Facebook putting some sort of policy on Instagram. And this isn't a consequence of us getting acquired."

The change also isn't retribution for Twitter shutting down the ability for Instagram to get access to Twitter's user list, Systrom said.

"The press has a history of painting things this way. We have a really good relationship with Twitter," he said.

Twitter in June started rolling out a new feature, dubbed Twitter cards, that allows partner Web sites to present their content in a "more engaging way." Twitter users can expand tweets of participating companies to see content previews, images, videos, and other information. Among the many card offerings is one for photos, which put an image front and center in a tweet.

Here's the full Twitter status update today:

Instagram photo-rendering issue

Users are experiencing issues with viewing Instagram photos on Twitter. Issues include cropped images. This is due to Instagram disabling its Twitter cards integration, and as a result, photos are being displayed using a pre-cards experience. So, when users click on Tweets with an Instagram link, photos appear cropped.

And here's a statement from Systrom that Facebook/Instagram gave us:

We are currently working on building the best experience for Instagram users. A handful of months ago, we supported Twitter Cards because we had a minimal Web presence. We've since launched several improvements to our [Web site] that allow users to directly engage with Instagram content through likes, comments, [and] hashtags, and now we believe the best experience is for us to link back to where the content lives. We will continue to evaluate how to improve the experience with Twitter and Instagram photos. As has been the case, Instagram users will continue to be able to share to Twitter as they originally did before the Twitter Cards implementation.

Twitter and Instagram used to partner closely, largely to compete against social-networking giant Facebook. However, there has been a growing rift between the two companies ever since Facebook announced in April its decision to buy Instagram for $1 billion.

This is how Instagram photos should look on Twitter. Twitter's photo card feature puts an image front and center in a tweet. Twitter
Twitter has been bringing more of its services in house, limiting users' third-party options both by acquiring popular apps like TweetDeck and by locking out services like TwitPic. The company's new "mobile first" strategy, unveiled in September, quietly moved photo hosting in-house, rather than offering it through third parties.

It also has taken steps to be more Instagram-like by rolling out new features that make it more instantly visual. Twitter is expected to introduce its own set of photo filters through its mobile apps.

Meanwhile, Instagram, which previously was mobile-only, launched a Web counterpart last month.

And of course, Instagram has a major benefactor now in Facebook, which has supplied most of the new employees that have expanded Instagram's ranks from 16 at the time of the acquisition to 25 now. And Instagram expects to benefit from that relationship even as its service remains somewhat independent.

"We're trying now to figure the best way to accelerate Instagram's growth, to leverage the fact that Facebook has a billion people using it every month," Systrom said today. "We're at a scale now where we have the ability to be a billion-person company."

Instagram will remain separate, though. The service exists outside Facebook for good reason:

There are more people with mobile phones than with computers, Systrom added: "quick access, ease of use, and we have a different graph," or network of interconnected users sharing photos. There is some overlap between people's Facebook contacts and their Instagram contacts.

"What we want to figure out is the sweet spot with that overlap," he said.

(Via The New York Times)

Update, 7:40 a.m. PT: Adds comments from Instagram CEO Kevin Systrom.

Update, 9:40 a.m. PT: Adds a comment provided by Instagram and more information from Systrom's conversation at LeWeb.

CNET's Stephen Shankland contributed to this report.