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Instagram is Not at War with Twitter [Opinion]

Instagram’s move to no longer support Twitter cards was not an act of war. More importantly, according to Instagram’s CEO, it was not a move influenced by Instagram’s new owner, Facebook. You can choose to buy into the hype that Instagram is fighting against Twitter so that Facebook will win a numbers war it has already won, or you can consider what Instagram is accomplishing by doing this.

Instagram is doing two things with this move: showing users the image’s metadata and giving users the opportunity to respond immediately to an image. Think about what happens when you see an Instagram picture show up in your Twitter feed. It used to be that you would see the image in your feed and nothing else. Before the change, if you used the official Twitter app you could only see the image without any indication of how many likes the image had or any comments about the image. If someone had a long title or description of the image then you often could not see the whole thing on Twitter, forcing you to open the Instagram app.

If you were friends with that person and you wanted to leave a comment or like the photo, it makes sense to do that on Instagram where it was posted, not on Twitter. Posting a response on Twitter to something originally shared from another social network breaks it away from the rest of the conversation. With the new changes, if you want to respond on Twitter (or whatever social network you’re seeing the image on), you still can, but if you want to respond on Instagram you’ll be pushed to the site with all of the image’s metadata and comment on or like the picture (assuming you’re logged in).

This move is huge for Instagram users. While Instagram.com is still a rather crippled site on the desktop side of things, when viewing a specific image it gives you all the functionality of the app without having to jump into it from Twitter. You just press (or click) the link and you’re able to respond to that image immediately.

This move was not a declaration of war by Instagram; it was a move that vastly improves the Instagram experience from within Twitter. If anything, this encourages people to continue posting photos to Twitter because they know that people will be able to respond to them more quickly than forcing people to leave what they were doing in Twitter to go respond in Instagram.

Twitter’s move to add filters is almost certainly a move to keep Twitter relevant in this boom for photo sharing on mobile devices. Twitter has never been the place to post photos. In fact, Twitter was fairly late to the game with their own photo hosting solution. Regardless of Twitter’s addition of photo filters (which has been rumored for months and could not possibly be a response to Instagram’s removal of support for Twitter Cards), Instagram is not at war with Twitter. They are not directly competing services at this point in time.

Twitter is a social network primarily designed around publishing text. They are moving towards supporting more and more types of media through Twitter Cards as they march towards becoming a broadcast network instead of a social network, but they are not really in the same space as Instagram. All this hype about war between Instagram and Twitter may be true from Twitter’s side, but all Instagram is trying to do is improve their users’ experience.

  • rruready

    I don’t see why anyone, including the author, cares about this. Maybe I’m just not hip.

  • http://twitter.com/RxREX_ ركس

    Although it makes sense to post feedback to an Instagram photograph directly on Instagram, it doesn’t make sense that you have to leave Twitter entirely just to see the photograph. As it stands currently, you have to exit Twitter and enter Instagram not knowing what the content of the photograph is. That has the ability to create frustration with users if they’re app-switching due to content they ultimately don’t care about.

    As it was, an Instagram photograph would appear on my timeline with a preview of the caption and hash tags associated. If I liked the photo, I would THEN click it, head to Instagram, and deliver true feedback (ie. likes & comments). Not to mention, there are many Twitter users who don’t use Instagram. For them, their interaction with photo media has to happen on their timeline.

    This move may not necessarily be an act of war but it definitely an aggressive one. In fact, it regresses users abilities to interact with Instagram content at their discretion. This move shows Instagram wants to force Twitter users towards their app instead of letting them choose when to interact with it.

  • Hothfox

    I understand Instagram not wanting user’s images to show up directly in Twitter’s timeline. Instagram wants people to actually use their app and use their social network, instead of people RTing and replying via Twitter. Now that it’s available on both iOS and Android, there’s no reason to NOT have the Instagram app if you want to see all your buddy’s pictures and interact with them. Instagram and Twitter are two separate companies, and I don’t think it’s unreasonable for them each to want their users to use their proprietary apps.

    What I have a problem with is Twitter being a weenie about their API and third party apps. The Twitter app actually does everything I want it to do, and does it pretty well. It just looks horrendous, and needs a face lift so it ad hears to Android’s design guidelines. But they’ll never do that because it’s easier just to port it from iOS.

  • Susan Shambaugh

    If there is a pic in my Twitter stream I like being able to see it without clicking on a link first and waiting for a website to load. If you post that you took this awesome pic and all I see is a link I most likely will not click on it in the first place and move on to the next interesting tweet in my timeline.

  • Concerned Reader

    Please never let Ron write another article on this site. They all show a total lack of coherent thought and common sense. These articles really make me consider removing this site from my bookmarks.

    • El_Big_CHRIS

      THAT bad huh. I still like the site.

  • Guest

    _/ The care cup is empty.

  • Ka_Solo

    Why never any mention of StreamZoo? Definitely equal to, if not better than IG. . .

  • FortitudineVincimus

    Jesus who cares? I don’t care 1 bit if Twitter hates Instagram or vice versa. Wow, waaaaay to much thought has been put into this topic.

    • http://TransientTangent.com/ Blake Mitchell

      Not every article is written for every person.

    • Dr_Buttballs

      ..

    • azndan4

      Yay this article is so interesting and relevant to android! NOT!

    • michael arazan

      uhg too may words, lost me after the first paragraph

  • http://profiles.google.com/tonycerdais Tony Cerda

    I don’t understand. If “Twitter is a social network primarily designed around publishing text.” – then why did they introduce their own photo editing tools and filters the very next day after instagram pulled out?

    • http://TransientTangent.com/ Blake Mitchell

      Because they want to control the entire ecosystem and will build out to try and fit that goal. For all that there is to complain about in regards to Facebook, they have been much more respectful of the development community.

    • http://ronoffringa.wordpress.com Ron Offringa

      Twitter has been rumored to be introducing their own photo filters for months. They could not create photo filters and push an update to their apps with them over the weekend. Twitter was not responding to Instagram dropping Twitter card support. It simply wasn’t possible to do that over the weekend.

  • Fattie McDoogles

    That makes perfect sense.

  • knobularlife
    • http://twitter.com/jcardona1 jcardona

      HAHA that was awesome.

  • http://TransientTangent.com/ Blake Mitchell

    I think the issue with these 2 companies is more of a Twitter problem than an Instagram problem. Twitter turned it’s back on developers and just continues to march down that path further and faster. They once said add something back to the platform, not rebuild the experience, but I think Twitter has made it pretty clear they want to dominate the service from end to end, using only their products. Need a URL shortener? Use Twitter. Need to upload an image? Use twitter. Need a photo filter? Use Twitter. At this point is a fool’s errand to build anything that integrates into Twitter because you almost assuredly count on them stealing and it and doing it themselves if it enjoys any amount of success.

  • Eric

    Boy, I sure did waste a lot of time learning to be proficient in Photoshop, now that you can plaster your garbage cell phone photography with ugly canned filters with the touch of a button.

    • http://brgulker.wordpress.com/ brgulker

      Haters gonna hate.

    • http://TransientTangent.com/ Blake Mitchell

      If Instagram is replacing your photoshop skills you should not feel too bad about it.

      • Eric

        Agreed. I’m just tired of people asking me to do that awesome thing where the whole photo is black and white, except for one color.

        • http://TransientTangent.com/ Blake Mitchell

          I won’t lie, while that is overused, I can’t help but like it when it is done well and it is a good picture.

          • Eric

            Yeah, I remember when that happened once. It was the girl in the red coat, in Schindler’s List.

          • http://TransientTangent.com/ Blake Mitchell

            Hitler may have killed millions of people but how bad could he have been. No Hitler? No Oscar Schindler making that list, no Schindler’s List, no more little girl in the red coat artistic choice. Do we ever get Sin City without Hitler? Do we care? Hard hitting questions.

          • Pat Hamilton

            Well, at least we have you here to ask them.

          • http://TransientTangent.com/ Blake Mitchell

            I’m like the Walter Cronkite of rambling comment threads.

        • http://infotainmentempire.blogspot.com Rob

          haha

        • Daniel Maginnis

          Funny cuz I don’t think I can do that on instagram but do remember when xenon point and shoots debuted with it years ago

    • http://twitter.com/jcardona1 jcardona

      I’m big into photography. Real photography, not cell phone crap. I’m not threatened or offended by Instacrap. If I want to see true high-quality photography I’ll go to Flickr, or 500px or a photography forum. If I want to see cell phone pics with vomit colored filters, that’s what Instacrap is for. To each their own.

      • Dave Sloboda

        And, yet, there are still plenty of professional photographers that are using Intagram for one reason or another. Whether to simply promote their work, share behind the scenes pics, or to perhaps even elevate what’s more or less becoming a new subgenre to the medium of photography.

        If you don’t like it, that’s fine, too. But there’s really no need to comment on a post about it if it’s something that doesn’t appeal to you. Just move on.

        • http://twitter.com/jcardona1 jcardona

          I was actually responding to Eric, and defending Instacrap. Even though I don’t like it, I can see it for what it is. That’s why I said to each their own. Instagram is not a photography app/site. It’s purely for social networking.

          • Dave Sloboda

            Actually, it IS a photography app that HAS a social site. The app itself has its own camera, one that can only be accessed/used by accessing/using the app itself. It can be used purely for social networking, but could also be used solely as a photography tool. For instance, if a user kept their account private and were to do prints or gallery shows with his/her photos from the app. Sure, it’s not what’s routinely thought of as “photography”, but I’m sure there are “real photographers” out there that, as part of their methods, produces degraded imagery as their final product.

            And how can you claim to be “defending Instacrap” when you’re calling it “Instacrap”?

          • http://twitter.com/jcardona1 jcardona

            “produces degraded imagery as their final product”

            That made me laugh :)

          • Dave Sloboda

            Well yeah, in comparison to full-blown cameras and RAW images, of course.