If you’re a fan of the popular series “Burn Notice” of USA Network, you might be jumping on your couch reading this, thinking of former Navy SEAL ‘Sam Axe’ and ‘Burn Notice’. Sorry, this post is actually about the picture of some axe that Instagram co-founder and CEO Kevin Systrom posted on Twitter on July 12, and how meaningful the metaphorical axe has become in the light of Instagram axing the Twitter-card integration option. People couldn’t figure out exactly what that axe in the picture stood for, at that time. It is still speculated, that it had something to do with Twitter blocking an Instagram feature that helped Instagram users find friends using Twitter data. Soon after, Instagram was acquired by Facebook and we started seeing a lot of changes. When Twitter introduced Twitter cards, third parties could show content on Twitter with the expand tweet option. Instagram photos started appearing within expanded tweets thereafter.
Now the two social media titans are at loggerheads again. Instagram didn’t announce anything about a burn notice on Twitter cards officially, but Twitter did post this yesterday. The post said that Instagram photos are appearing cropped on user’s timeline. This is due to Instagram’s withdrawal of support from Twitter-card integration that displays the photos within tweets (links). When contacted about this, CEO Systrom said on stage in Le Web, Paris –
We will always be integrated with Twitter in a way that you can tweet out from Instagram to Twitter.
He also mentioned that the card option was confusing and Twitter’s recent complain about Instagram photos appearing cropped and users having difficulty with display, has nothing to do with the fact Instagram was acquired by Facebook. He added that it was his decision, not from Facebook. The company’s roll out of web-based Instagram profiles means it wants people to go to instagram.com and not just view it anywhere. Quite clear from Systrom’s statement –
This is an evolution of just where we are and where we want links from our content to go.
With this move, which looks more of a retribution despite Systrom’s explanation, the growing rivalry in the social-media is just getting hotter, where big boys are getting more finicky about how the access to their content is protected from the competitors. Experts opine this is a real epic war between Twitter and Facebook. Jack Dorsey, Twitter’s co-founder and executive chairman, an early investor in Instagram had plans to acquire it, before Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg stole the show. Not just that, Jack’s recent twitter feed being filled with photos with experimental filters which are similar to Instagram’s filters in their smartphone apps, and Systrom’s lack of interest in tweeting is just making this whole “I-am-the-boss” battle, amusing and grossly eventful. Zuckerberg, in a blog post in April, stressed the fact Instagram’s connectivity with other social networks makes it worth the salt. He said –
We think the fact that Instagram is connected to other services beyond Facebook is an important part of the experience.. We plan on keeping features like the ability to post to other social networks.
Despite his assurance, if Facebook really wants to use Instagram platform for advertisement, then it is imperative that users flock to the website and not view it on any third party platform. With 100 million users, Instagram is a gold mine, and all these moves (web based profile et al) seemingly, are steps towards that goal.
End user attention and web traffic is a pie that every big player in social media wants a slice of, and for that they’re going lengths in disturbing the harmony that once existed between the networks. In order to be on top, are they playing too hard and ruining the experience of the very users they’re desperate to woo? Only time will tell.