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Twitter tightens grip on own firehose

Microbloggy thing tracks all links clicked

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

Twitter is on a mission to regain control of its own firehose.

On Wednesday evening, the ballyhooed microblogging operation struck not one but two blows against third parties hoping to feed off its endless stream of self-serving mini-messages: The company said it's moving all users to its own url shortening service, and it took the wraps off its own iPad application.

The arrival of Twitter for iPad comes a day after the company began requiring third-party Twitter applications to access user accounts through the OAuth authentication standard. This caused problems for some third party apps, such as TweetDeck, and Twitter belatedly sent an email to all users alerting them to the change (previously, it had merely announced the change on its company blog).

The email also told the world that Twitter's own url shortening service – dubbed t.co – should be rolled out to all users by the end of the year. Twitter said t.co links will be easier to read, with the domain and part of the full-length domain visible, and before shuttling you to the site, the service will check it against a database of sites known to contain malware.

Of course, this also puts the squeeze on third-party url shorteners such as bit.ly, the previous default, and tinyurl.com.

What's more, after the switch to t.co, Twitter will record all clicks made through the service. Presumably, this data will be used to target ads – aka Promoted Tweets. "When you click on these links from Twitter.com or a Twitter application, Twitter will log that click," the company's email said. "We hope to use this data to provide better and more relevant content to you over time."

In late May, less than six weeks after launching its own ad network, Twitter banned third party networks from its service. ®

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