Newstalk
Newstalk

12.15 16 Mar 2015


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Live streaming app, Meerkat has been getting a lot of attention from both tweeters and investors over the last few weeks, but a move from Twitter is now threatening the future of the app.

The app linked to Twitter accounts, allowing users to connect their Meerkat accounts to their Twitter profiles, automatically syncing who you are following, and who follows you.

Meerkat then allowed you to live stream video to your followers - automatically tweeting the stream and notifying followers, and deleting the stream once it is finished.

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The app's bright yellow logo, and ephemeral nature have drawn comparisons with Snapchat.

Twitter announced over the weekend that it will no longer allow Meerkat to automatically connect to Twitter accounts. This comes days after it was learned that Twitter has bought a competing live streaming social app called Periscope.

As all Meerkat users were previously linked through Twitter's network, this is a major setback for the company.

The app was only launched in mid-February and had been recording exceptional engagement figures.

Meerkat CEO, Ben Rubin spoke with Yahoo Tech at SXSW - he acknowledged that, "Twitter would be upset at some point," but adds, "We did not know they were buying a company in this space."

Twitter says that it is imposing its own "internal policy" to not let third parties to use its social graph "in a competitive way." Mr Rubin criticised the citing of "internal policy" and said that the network's rules for platform companies should be clearer.

The Meerkat had been working directly with Twitter and felt that the company could have given it more notice.

He insists that the app will grow its own network, saying: "The idea was to jump-start the community on top of Twitter, but the idea was never to build the social graph on top of Twitter."

Twitter took similar action in 2012 when it blocked Instrgam's "Find Friends" feature from accessing users' Twitter followers. It also stopped users directly posting Instagram photos as tweets and invested in its own photo filer software.

Instagram overcame this setback - and now has more active users than Twitter - Meerkat will hope to follow that lead. The CEO says that he has no hard feelings towards Twitter:

"You know, we were lucky. Twitter was very nice to us. And it’s their house. We need to be the best guest there is."

"We need to acknowledge the fact that we would not be sitting here were it not for Twitter," he told the SXSW crowd.

The app will now start to work on building its own social graph.


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