Swedish social microdonations service Flattr is no longer allowed to use the Twitter “favourite” button for donations due to what the microblogging site says is a breach of its terms.
Users of Flattr were previously able to reward clever or interesting tweets by sending a small amount of money from their Flattr account to the author when they “favourited” it, with Flattr taking a 10 per cent cut. However, from today at midday, Flattr users will no longer be able to send these micro-donations. Despite Flattr offering to forgo this compensation and have the author receive the entire amount, Twitter won’t budge.
The reason? Twitter has said that Flattr is in violation of its API terms, specifically Commercial Use and Advertising around Twitter Content, which states: “You cannot sell or receive compensation for Tweet actions or the placement of Tweet actions on your service.”
Twitter also told the startup: “Our API Terms of Service state that you cannot sell or receive compensation for Tweet actions or the placement of Tweet actions on your service. This includes compensation attached to a Tweet action sent to either a service or through a service to another user.”
The startup emphasised its disappointment in Twitter in a press release, saying: “We think we created a beautiful way to support creators by checking what you favourited on Twitter and letting you send a flattr to the writer of a tweet. Twitter did not”.
The bad news…and the good news
This is a big blow for Flattr – Twitter is currently its most popular service. The social donations site used to rely on websites integrating a separate Flattr button in their sites and only recently integrated with features on third party sites, including likes and favourites buttons, in an effort to scale. While the startup admits it makes sense for Twitter to be wary of monetisation efforts on its platform as it could lead to selling retweets and followers, it also accuses Twitter of “stomping out innovation”.
But it’s not all bad news for the startup today – Flattr announced a new collaboration with YouTube, so users can now send donations when they like videos on the site. Flattr is also collaborating with Instagram, SoundCloud, Github, Flickr, Vimeo, 500px and App.net.
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