Meerkat CEO on Twitter Blockage: It's Their House, and We Need to Respect That

Meerkat CEO on Twitter Blockage: It's Their House, and We Need to Respect That
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Former Staff Writer
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Meerkat, a buzzy app that allows users to live stream videos over Twitter -- and which has become the talk of the town at SXSW -- may have just been dealt a devastating blow.

After confirming that it had purchased a competing streaming service called Periscope last month for a reported $50 to $100 million, Twitter has now blocked Meerkat’s access to its social graph, the app’s creator, Ben Rubin, said yesterday at the interactive festival.

While this won’t affect Meerkat’s core function, in which users can tweet out a live stream link to all of their followers, it could represent a serious speed bump in Meerkat’s path to amassing its own community of users, Rubin told Yahoo Tech. For instance, upon signing in, new Meerkat users used to have the same follows and followers that they had on Twitter. Now that access to Twitter’s social graph has been limited, Meerkat will have to find other ways to shepherd users over to its platform.

A Twitter spokesperson told Buzzfeed, however, that users can still log into Meerkat using their Twitter usernames and passwords.

Related: Meerkat Was Just a Side Project. Here's How it Became a Viral Sensation.

While Rubin noted that the move by Twitter was inevitable, he spoke of the social network in unexpectedly glowing terms, explaining that Meerkat must now find ways to create its own network. “[Twitter] worked very hard to build a graph, and if they have something coming in the space, it says two things: one, that they are a very smart company,” Rubin said, “and two, that it’s their house eventually. And we need to respect that. And we need to be the best guest there is.”

Rubin added that Meerkat had only ever intended to “jumpstart” its community on Twitter and then build its own graph. “The policy of Twitter is that you can have the graph, but you cannot resell it, and you cannot reuse it in a competitive way,” Rubin said. “What we didn’t know is that we were competing against them because we didn’t know that they bought a company in the space.”

Partnering with other social networks like Facebook, Rubin said, would be less effective given Twitter’s emphasis on immediacy and the fact that only 12 percent of one’s Facebook friends see wall posts within a 24-hour period.

Nevertheless, at the end of the day, if he is heartened by Twitter’s endorsement of the live streaming space with Periscope, Rubin is glad to be on an independent trajectory. In regards to the acquisition, he said, “We are lucky to have our own agenda…because there’s a lot of stuff that we think differently than Twitter. But I’m very glad that we share the same agreement that this is going to be exciting.”

Related: What You Missed (So Far) at SXSW: Flying Cars, Bacon Bourbon Cocktails

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