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Why Did IFTTT Remove Twitter Triggers?

Courtesy of @vibhu

If you’ve ever wondered if there was an easier way of getting things done online you’ve probably looked at automation services. One of the best is IFTTT (pronounced “gift”, without the “g”), an acronym for the “If This, Then That” conditional statement used in programming.

IFTTT allows you to connect dozens of channels (including Twitter, Facebook, Evernote, email) to one another. You can then create “recipes”, which are a combination of a trigger (say, “I take an Instagram photo”) and an action (“Photo uploaded to Google Drive”).

There are currently 52 channels, which means there is an enormous variety of recipes one can make. In fact, IFTTT currently has almost 2 million recipes. Many had used Twitter triggers (a new tweet by you, new favorite tweet, new tweet by someone you follow, etc…) to back up Twitter content, send favorites to Pocket (formerly Read It Later), replicate it on another platform, and for a variety of other ends.

On September 20th, however, Linden Tibbets, CEO of IFTTT sent an e-mail to users stating, “on September 27th we will be removing all Twitter Triggers, disabling your ability to push tweets to places like email, Evernote and Facebook. All Personal and Shared Recipes using a Twitter Trigger will also be removed.”

Tibbets blamed the change squarely on Twitter’s new API rule changes, stating, “In recent weeks, Twitter announced policy changes* that will affect how applications and users like yourself can interact with Twitter’s data.

Many outlets reporting the story didn’t doublecheck their facts.

It turns out that IFTTT has been in violation of API rules for months and that the changes had “absolutely nothing to do with any changes to [Twitter’s] API.”. By looking at the API Terms of Service changes referenced by Tibbets, anybody can see that exporting Twitter content to “cloud based services” like IFTTT has been against Twitter’s rules since at least May of this year; they are simply being enforced more stringently now. TechCrunch and others (including The Next Web) noted this, and even Twitter’s CEO, Dick Costolo called out Tibbets saying, “It’s become a little bit of, you know, ‘I didn’t get my homework done because Twitter changed their API.’

Despite the little spat and brief outrage, it really doesn’t matter who is right because Twitter is going ahead with its months-old plans to choke off access to Apps it doesn’t like.

So while there’s nothing to be done about IFTTT’s changes, there are other ways users can save their Tweets. That may be of little consolation to those who see Twitter closing itself off as compromising it’s appeal and social value for the sake of profit.

What are your thoughts on IFTTT’s reaction to Twitter’s policy? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.