Twitter-Instagram feud escalates as photos show up wonky

The Twitter-Instagram feud continues, with Instagram disabling a feature that allows photos to be properly displayed on Twitter's website and apps.

Instagram CEO Kevin Systrom speaks at the LeWeb conference in Paris.
(Credit: Stephen Shankland/CNET)

Twitter noted in a status update that Instagram disabled its Twitter cards integration. What that means is that photos from Instagram are difficult to view and appear cropped or off center.

Meanwhile, Instagram chief executive Kevin Systrom said at the LeWeb conference in Paris that while the relationship with Twitter is changing, Instagram will remain integrated with Twitter in some form.

He noted that the move, while confusing to some, is the right step for Instagram, which wants more people to view images via Instagram's site, instead of through other sites.

"Really, it's about where do you go to consume that image, to interact with that image. We want that to be on Instagram," Systrom said at the LeWeb conference. "What we realised over time is we really needed to have an awesome web presence."

Systrom added that the change was his decision, not an order from Facebook, whose acquisition of Instagram closed about three months ago.

"This decision is definitely coming from me," he said. "This is not a case of Facebook putting some sort of policy on Instagram. And this isn't a consequence of us getting acquired."

The change also isn't retribution for Twitter shutting down the ability for Instagram to get access to Twitter's user list, Systrom said.

"The press has a history of painting things this way. We have a really good relationship with Twitter," he said.

Twitter in June started rolling out a new feature, dubbed Twitter cards, which allows partner websites to present their content in a "more engaging way". Twitter users can expand tweets of participating companies to see content previews, images, videos and other information. Among the many card offerings is one for photos, which puts an image front and centre in a tweet.

Here's the full Twitter status update:

Instagram photo-rendering issue

Users are experiencing issues with viewing Instagram photos on Twitter. Issues include cropped images. This is due to Instagram disabling its Twitter cards integration, and as a result, photos are being displayed using a pre-cards experience. So, when users click on Tweets with an Instagram link, photos appear cropped.

And here's a statement from Systrom that Facebook/Instagram gave us:

We are currently working on building the best experience for Instagram users. A handful of months ago, we supported Twitter cards because we had a minimal web presence. We've since launched several improvements to our [website] that allow users to directly engage with Instagram content through likes, comments [and] hashtags, and now we believe the best experience is for us to link back to where the content lives. We will continue to evaluate how to improve the experience with Twitter and Instagram photos. As has been the case, Instagram users will continue to be able to share to Twitter as they originally did before the Twitter cards implementation.

Twitter and Instagram used to partner closely, largely to compete against social-networking giant Facebook. However, there has been a growing rift between the two companies ever since Facebook announced its decision to buy Instagram for US$1 billion in April.

This is how Instagram photos should look on Twitter. Twitter's photo card feature puts an image front and centre in a tweet.
(Credit: Twitter)

Twitter has been bringing more of its services in-house, limiting users' third-party options by acquiring popular apps like TweetDeck and by locking out services like TwitPic. The company's new "mobile first" strategy, unveiled in September, quietly moved photo hosting in-house, rather than offering it through third parties.

It also has taken steps to be more Instagram-like by rolling out new features that make it more instantly visual. Twitter is expected to introduce its own set of photo filters through its mobile apps.

Meanwhile, Instagram, which previously was mobile-only, launched a web counterpart last month.

And, of course, Instagram has a major benefactor now in Facebook, which has supplied most of the new employees that have expanded Instagram's rank from 16 at the time of the acquisition to 25 now. And Instagram expects to benefit from that relationship, even as its service remains somewhat independent.

"We're trying now to figure the best way to accelerate Instagram's growth, to leverage the fact that Facebook has a billion people using it every month," Systrom said. "We're at a scale now where we have the ability to be a billion-person company."

Instagram will remain separate, though. The service exists outside Facebook for good reason.

Systrom added that there are more people with mobile phones than with computers, who have "quick access, ease of use, and we have a different graph," or network of interconnected users sharing photos, though there is some overlap between users' Facebook contacts and their Instagram contacts.

"What we want to figure out is the sweet spot with that overlap," he said.


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