Facebook’s recently acquired photo-sharing service Instagram removed a key element of its integration with Twitter, signalling a deepening rift between two of the Web’s dominant social media companies.
Instagram CEO Kevin Systrom said on Wednesday that his company turned off support for Twitter ‘cards’ in order to drive Twitter users to Instagram’s own website. Twitter ‘cards’ are a feature that allows multimedia content like YouTube videos and Instagram photos to be embedded and viewed directly within a Twitter message.
The move marked the latest clash between Facebook and Twitter since April, when Facebook, the world’s No. 1 social network, outbid Twitter to nab fast-growing Instagram in a cash-and-stock deal valued at the time at $1 billion. The acquisition closed in September for roughly $715 million, reflecting Facebook’s recent stock drop.
The companies’ ties have been strained since.
In July, Twitter blocked Instagram from using its data to help new Instagram users find friends.
Beginning earlier this week, Twitter’s users began to complain in public messages that Instagram photos did not seem to display properly on Twitter’s website.
Systrom confirmed on Wednesday that his company had decided its users should view photos on Instagram’s own Web pages and took steps to change its policies. “We believe the best experience is for us to link back to where the content lives,” Systrom said in a statement, citing recent improvements to Instagram’s website. “A handful of months ago, we supported Twitter cards because we had a minimal Web presence,” Systrom said, noting that the company has since released new features that allow users to comment about and ‘like’ photos directly on Instagram’s website.
The move escalates a rivalry in the social networking sector, where the biggest players have sought to wall off access to content from rival services and to their ranks of users. “They’re both competing for slices of the same pie, the pie being users’ attention,” said Ray Valdes, an analyst with Gartner.
If Facebook decides to offer advertising on Instagram, it’s important that the users visit Instagram’s own website, said Valdes.
“If the eyeballs are elsewhere, you have less to work with in terms of monetisation,” he said.