TwapperKeeper is a service allowing users to create personalized and permanent archives of tweets. Users can create archives based on keywords, hashtags, and from specific users. The basic service is free. Many use the service to archive tweets from conferences they are organizing or attending.
TwapperKeeper also offers keyword searching and direct permalinks. Another feature allows users to export/download their archives for offline analysis and backup
So, what’s up?
The good news is that the service WILL continue to be a useful online tool MINUS a useful feature.
John O’Brien, the creator of TwapperKeeper has blogged that as of March 20, 2011 he will be, “removing the ‘Export and Download’ and ‘API’ features of the TwapperKeeper.com website.
So, if you want a copy of your archive(s) make sure to grab the files before the export and download feature is not longer available.
Twitter has informed O’Brien that the export and download feature violates their Terms of Service. He writes:
While we realize that these features are very important to many of our users, this change comes at the request of Twitter to bring our service into alignment with the API Terms of Service (http://dev.twitter.com/pages/api_terms) regarding redistribution and syndication of content.
ReadWriteWeb has a report about the changes.
According to O’Brien, this move by Twitter could signal that any service that engages in providing structured data not solely for personal use will be affected.
“What I’m seeing is, anybody who is ‘syndicating’ content, ie allowing it to be downloaded and exported in any structured way, is running afoul of the terms of service,” said O’Brien. “If it’s in HTML, it’s fine. The minute it became structured it became a problem.”
The article includes a discussion of a question that we’ve been asking since we first learned about the news. Why now?
TwapperKeeper got its start in June 2009 and has been offering API access for almost that entire time. O’Brien says that he even submitted whitelist requests early on explaining exactly the nature of his service.
We asked Twitter about the situation and were told that it is a matter of its TOS and Twitter stability.
“We ask all developers in the Twitter ecosystem to abide by a simple set of rules that are in the interests of our users, as well as the health and vitality of the platform as a whole,” said a Twitter spokesperson. “We often take actions to enforce these rules; in fact, on an average day we turn off more than one hundred services that violate our API rules of the road. This keeps the ecosystem fair for everyone.”
O.K. However, the right thing for Twitter to have done (on several levels) was to let TwapperKeeper know about their concerns long before 1.5 billion tweets had been archived.
The RWW report has more about Twitter and several organizations that use their API.
So, TwapperKeeper is NOT going away (very good news) but a very useful feature will go offline in less than a month.