Social Media

Twitter puts RSS on death row – can Topsy save it?

Twitter puts RSS on death row – can Topsy save it?

On March 5 2013 Twitter will turn off its RSS and atom support, officially killing the site’s open access to user content, completing a process it started back in April 2011.

The company says that it has taken the decision to remove RSS and atom support from the site because they were “infrequently used” – which is not surprising, since Twitter removed links to RSS feeds from its site in April 2011.  Since the site’s launch RSS has allowed developers to access user timelines and search results from the site and display them in their own applications.  It also allowed power users and reporters to view tweets using systems like Google Reader, and Firefox, Internet Explorer and Safari’s native RSS readers.

“Twitter will turn off RSS…completing a process it started back in April 2011”

Twitter began removing RSS support early last year when it removed the native RSS link on users’ profiles, but it still supported the system – users could still access RSS feeds for users’ timelines and search results using simple URL hacks.  Along with the removal of RSS developers will now be required to sign in when attempting to access content from Twitter using Oauth.  Twitter says this is required to prevent abusive behaviour and to monitor API usage.

What RSS-less Twitter means

Over the past year the company has been making changes to its systems and APIs which are designed to increase revenue and bring more people back to the site. So, by removing support for RSS Twitter users will no longer be able to archive their Tweets using services like Google Reader.

How to get RSS

Some third party developers also offer RSS access to Twitter content.  One such site, Topsy – which Twitter recommends to journalists as Twitter search tool – allows users to generate RSS feeds for search terms.

These changes will further annoy Twitter’s third party developers many of whom have already criticised the company for placing too many restrictions in the way.  Yesterday the CEO of Flipboard, Mike McCue who quit Twitter’s board a month ago, told The Telegraph (UK) that Twitter risks damaging its larger ecosystem of developers and apps, as well as much of its good with too many restrictive changes.

“Twitter can be incredibly valuable as an open communications mechanism but, if you close too many things down too quickly, if you think about it too short-sightedly, you could easily do a lot of damage to that ecosystem.”

The announcement that Twitter was to turn off RSS support came the same day that the company re-launched its embeddable timeline feature, with additional limitations.

Image via Bigstock

Social Media

Piers Dillon-Scott is co-editor of The Sociable and writes about stuff he finds. He likes technology, media, and using the Oxford comma (because it just makes sense).

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