By Alexei Oreskovic and Gerry Shih
SAN FRANCISCO Dec 5 Facebook Inc's
recently acquired photo-sharing service Instagram removed a key
element of its integration with Twitter, signaling a deepening
rift between two of the Web's dominant social media companies.
Instagram Chief Executive Kevin Systrom said Wednesday his
company turned off support for Twitter "cards" in order to drive
Twitter users to Instagram's own website. Twitter "cards" are a
feature that allows multimedia content like YouTube videos and
Instagram photos to be embedded and viewed directly within a
The move marked the latest clash between Facebook and
Twitter since April, when Facebook, the world's no. 1 social
network, outbid Twitter to nab fast-growing Instagram in a
cash-and-stock deal valued at the time at $1 billion. The
acquisition closed in September for roughly $715 million,
reflecting Facebook's recent stock drop.
The companies' ties have been strained since. In July,
Twitter blocked Instagram from using its data to help new
Instagram users find friends.
Beginning earlier this week, Twitter's users began to
complain in public messages that Instagram photos did not seem
to display properly on Twitter's website.
Systrom confirmed Wednesday that his company had decided its
users should view photos on Instagram's own Web pages and took
steps to change its policies.
"We believe the best experience is for us to link back to
where the content lives," Systrom said in a statement, citing
recent improvements to Instagram's website.
"A handful of months ago, we supported Twitter cards because
we had a minimal Web presence," Systrom said, noting that the
company has since released new features that allow users to
comment about and "like" photos directly on Instagram's website.
The move escalates a rivalry in the fast-growing social
networking sector, where the biggest players have sought to wall
off access to content from rival services and to their ranks of
"They're both competing for slices of the same pie, the pie
being users' attention," said Ray Valdes, an analyst with
research firm Gartner.
If Facebook decides to offer advertising on Instagram, it's
important that the users visit Instagram's own website, said
Valdes. "If the eyeballs are elsewhere, you have less to work
with in terms of monetization," he said.
Photos are among the most popular features on both Facebook
and Twitter, and Instagram's meteoric rise in recent years has
further proved how picture-sharing has become a key front in the
battle for social Internet supremacy.
Instagram, which has 100 million users, allows consumers to
tweak the photos they take on their smartphones and share the
images with friends, a feature that Twitter has reportedly also
begun to develop. Twitter's executive chairman, Jack Dorsey, was
an early investor in Instagram and had hoped to acquire it
before Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg made a successful bid.
When Zuckerberg announced the acquisition in an April blog
post, he highlighted Instagram's inter-connectivity with other
"We think the fact that Instagram is connected to other
services beyond Facebook is an important part of the
experience," Zuckerberg wrote. "We plan on keeping features like
the ability to post to other social networks."
A Twitter spokesman declined comment Wednesday, but a status
message on Twitter's website confirmed that users are
"experiencing issues," such as "cropped images" when viewing
Instagram photos on Twitter.