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Twitter-Instagram feud heats up as pics disappear

Instagram pulls photos as speculation over Twitter filters hits

December 10, 2012 12:59 PM ET

Computerworld - The feud between Twitter and Instagram is heating up.

About a week after Instagram disabled an integration tool, leaving pictures difficult to view on Twitter, the company has pulled all of its photos from Twitter.

The microblogging site announced on its status page that Instagram has disabled photo integration with Twitter.

"As a result, photos are no longer appearing in tweets or user photo galleries," reported Twitter. "While tweeting links to Instagram photos is still possible, you can no longer view the photos on Twitter, as was previously the case."

Neither Twitter nor Instagram immediately responded to requests for comment.

Last week, Instagram CEO and co-founder Kevin Systrom told Computerworld in an email that he wants to create the best experience for the photo-sharing apps, but also wants users to spend more time on the Instagram site.

"A handful of months ago, we supported Twitter Cards because we had a minimal Web presence," Systrom wrote. "We've since launched several improvements to our Web site that allow users to directly engage with Instagram content through likes, comments [and] hashtags, and now we believe the best experience is for us to link back to where the content lives.

"We will continue to evaluate how to improve the experience with Twitter and Instagram photos," he added. "As has been the case, Instagram users will continue to be able to share to Twitter as they originally did before the Twitter Cards implementation."

Relations between Twitter and Instagram are complicated because even though the two businesses have benefitted from each other, each wants to keep users on its own site. Making things even more dicey between the two, Facebook in April bought the popular photo-sharing app company for $1 billion.

Then, earlier this fall, Instagram saw a big upswing among mobile users that pushed the app past Twitter in the mobile arena.

Instagram, which is just two years old, went from 886,000 daily mobile users in March to 7.3 million in August, a nearly nine-fold increase, according to comScore, an online tracking and analytics company. That growth put Instagram ahead of Twitter, which had 6.86 million daily active mobile users in August, an increase of 24% during the same six-month period.

Now there may be another wedge between the two.

According to a report from All Things D, Twitter is working on a bundle of its own photo filters that can be used inside the Twitter app. Citing unnamed sources, the report indicates that the filters could be ready for an app update in time for the holiday season.

"This is a manifestation of the inherent conflict in social media, or on the Web in general," Ezra Gottheil, an analyst with Technology Business Research, said in an interview. "You want to get traffic from other sites, but you want people to have a reason to stay with you. They have to work together, but they also have to give users a reason to go to their own sites. Those are often conflicting goals."

Instagram wants users to see its images on Twitter and then visit Instagram -- and ultimately Facebook. Twitter, however, wants people to see the images on Twitter and stay on Twitter.

covers the Internet and Web 2.0, emerging technologies, and desktop and laptop chips for Computerworld. Follow Sharon on Twitter at Twitter @sgaudin, on or subscribe to Sharon's RSS feed Gaudin RSS. Her email address is sgaudin@computerworld.com.

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