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Live video streaming app Meerkat gets kneecapped by Twitter

Meerkat works simply: log in with your Twitter account, hit the stream button, and it immediately starts broadcasting video from your iPhone onto the web and posts a link onto Twitter. The stream is only available while it's live — once you stop, it's gone. Ephemeral live video, if you will. It's a straightforward service, and while it's not yet widely used, the exposure it's seen at SXSW Interactive has dramatically raised its profile. While you might question the value of live video streaming from anybody's phone, it's worth noting that the value of 140-character messages was questioned as well, and Twitter gained traction under similar circumstances at SXSW in 2007.

But Twitter didn't rely on another service to propagate it's own. Apparently Twitter's not to keen on Meerkat using their service to vault into the public consciousness, and their taking steps to reign in just how much exposure Meerkat's going to get through Twitter. According to BuzzFeed:

Twitter is cutting off Meerkat's ability to port people's social networks over from Twitter to its own service—the so-called social graph. That means when new users come on board, they will no longer be automatically connected to the other people they are already following on Twitter.

It's not surprising to see Twitter doing this, even if it is disheartening. Twitter recently purchased a different live streaming startup Periscope (only available via invite right now), and has an understandable business interest in protecting their own assets and not offering a service like Meerkat free and unfettered access to everything Twitter APIs have to offer.

That's not likely to significantly hamper Meerkat, however, as the functions to start streaming and send out tweets about your stream are not tied to "social graph" access. If anything, doing so has generated more press for Meerkat — and positive press at that, while Twitter's bearing the brunt of the negative side of the story (just like in this very post). It remains to be seen whether or not Meerkat will see longer term success or be something of a flash in the pan.

Source: BuzzFeed

Derek Kessler is Special Projects Manager for Mobile Nations. He's been writing about tech since 2009, has far more phones than is considered humane, still carries a torch for Palm, and got a Tesla because it was the biggest gadget he could find. You can follow him on Twitter at @derekakessler.

6 Comments
  • It is going to significantly hamper Meerkat, because push notifications are essential to a live, ephemeral service. The essential hook of Meerkat is that when you start broadcasting, people who follow you get a notification that you are streaming. Meerkat could do that because it had access to/rebuilds your Twitter graph. With Twitter cutting them off, people have to rebuild that graph manually inside Meerkat in order to get a push notification. Most people will not do this, which means that most people will not get a push notification - which means most people will never see the video stream, as it will be over and done with by the time they stumble across the announcement in their timelines. Sent from the iMore App
  • "Twitter is cutting off Meerkat's ability to port people's social networks over from Twitter to its own service—the so-called social graph. That means when new users come on board, they will no longer be automatically connected to the other people they are already following on Twitter." And herin lies the fundamental problem with social media: ownership of one's network, or rather, lack thereof. Perhaps we need an open source service through which we might manage our own social graph - with the ability to grant (and revoke) access to services like Meerkat (or Twitter) - minus any sort of profit-driven business model that would eventually turn it into another Facebook.
  • Well, that was the idea behind Diaspora. Sent from the iMore App
  • I'm sure Twitter just wants money from Meerkat. Whenever someone find a use for using their service, they want to capitalize on it. Rightfully, its their platform. I'm sure there are deals made for traditional broadcast TV integration with Twitter. Sent from the iMore App
  • That almost sounds like ISP'S wanting to charge fees for streaming services on their pipes. Posted via the iMore App for Android
  • Can someone please help me figure out how to fix the stream problem of meerkat app on my iPod? As soon as I click stream I get kicked out of the app. Please help?