Tweet No More

Twitter Shuts Down Thunderclap Lightning-Fast

Just as the tweet-amplifying app was getting started, Twitter cuts Thunderclap off.

thunderclap logo Twitter Shuts Down Thunderclap Lightning FastEarlier today, we wrote about a pretty viral app—Thunderclap, which enables users to tweet the same thing simultaneously, en masse, in order to call out a specific person or draw attention to a certain cause. (The first and second Thunderclaps were directed at Congress members, for example.) But as we suspected might happen, Twitter has shut the brand-new service down after only its second day in operation.

Twitter shut down the service the day after Matt Taibbi sent the inaugural Thunderclap, a tweet replicated by almost 2,000 supporters after a Kickstarter-esque campaign. “Weird, they suspended our OAuth token just now,” Hashem Bajwa, founder of De-De, which makes Thunderclap, wrote in an email. “We figured they might. We’re trying to reach people there.”

Thunderclap lost access shortly after the second Thunderclap, a call on Congress to publish government data in bulk. It was tweeted by 128 people at noon simultaneously.

It’s likely that Twitter decided that Thunderclap was too close to being spam. Some Betabeat commenters would agree—”The article makes it sound noble, but the Thunderclap recipients are just inundated with junk,” wrote one. Thunderclap bears some resemblance to FAME, a game that also got yanked by Twitter for triggering mass numbers of users to follow and unfollow each other in order to give one person a celebrity-level number of followers for a day.

Thunderclap had been contacted by a number of celebrities in the media and politics scene about potential Thunderclap campaigns, Mr. Bajwa told Betabeat in confidence. In a follow-up email, he mentioned that the White House had also been in touch.

“They gave us an automated reply that we are violating terms of service by sending multiple @mentions and automating sending tweets,” he said. “A lot of services like Buffer automate. We are trying to contact some of the executives at Twitter now. Hope we can resolve it.” Long term, Thunderclap was planning to include other social media sites, with a launch on Facebook planned in two weeks. Maybe Thunderclap can take its service to Weibo, the popular Chinese version of Twitter—then again, maybe not.

Follow Adrianne Jeffries on Twitter or via RSS. ajeffries@observer.com