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.