Why Did Twitter Drop Datasift? Why Did Facebook Partner with Them?

Partners like Datasift are smart enough to realize that there needs to be a good reason for a social network to work with them. In this case, Twitter decided that wasn’t happening, but for Facebook it was.

Twitter recently announced they would be making changes to the way in which companies could access data from the network.

From now on, companies will only be able to access the Twitter firehose— the stream of 500 million tweets per day that comes in from Twitter users, which companies can pull valuable insights from—by going directly through Twitter (with GNIP, the company that Twitter acquired in 2014).

Previously Datasift and another company, NTT, which dealt with tweets in Japanese, licensed Twitter data directly from the network. Those companies created a structure for the data and sold access to it.

More than a few people have cried foul at Twitter’s move and how suddenly it was apparently made. It does perhaps leave some companies that partnered with Datasift in the lurch, at least in the short term.

This story is coming on the heels of the announcement that Facebook is partnering exclusively with Datasift for its new Topic Data—the information about conversations on Facebook that will be available to marketers (and which replaces the previously available listening data).

Falcon Social’s head of Partnerships and Innovation, Dennis Green-Lieber, works with all of the companies involved here, and to him, these moves make sense based on what Facebook and Twitter aim to do with their respective data sets.

When Datasift worked with Twitter, they pulled data from that network and other sources, and served it to both end users and agencies, analytics companies and platforms that in turn worked with end users.

The nature of Twitter means that most of the data the network generates is public. Twitter and GNIP have sold to people who can inject the firehose and drive product innovation and build value for clients by providing actionable insights.

Twitter, as well as end users, are getting more ambitious in terms of the uses of this data. Listening to what people are talking about in a city could, for example, help a company determine how much demand there will be for their product, and they could ramp up their production accordingly.

Twitter is cutting off Datasift, which both resold and repackaged data into a format that their clients could use more or less as is.

Twitter says, basically, that this change is what needs to happen in order to help them and their customers meet those ambitions. As Twitter’s Zach Hofer-Shall put it, they want to “develop a deeper understanding of customer needs, get direct feedback for the product roadmap and work more closely with data customers.”

This comes alongside the news that Facebook will change their offering so that their data will be only accessible through Datasift, the partner that Twitter has just dropped.

It’s not, as it might seem, a case of retaliation. (Twitter didn’t stop working with Datasift because of the Facebook partnership.) It’s been part of their plan since they acquired GNIP.

Facebook’s new program is called topic data—it will be keyword based, anonymized demographic data and insights from all posts and status updates on the network, except those that are only viewable by the poster.

The news is a change for Facebook, which has generally allowed less access to data about what users were saying because so many posts on the network are private. Their public search API and monetization of that data have not always been their top priority.

Datasift will be the intermediary between Facebook and anyone that wants to access that data on conversations on the network. Partners will work with Datasift to integrate the data via their Pylon infrastructure and API.

Dennis has seen the tools for Facebook data that will be available via Datasift and the possible applications for it. He says they’re providing a strong product to the market and that he’s looking forward to seeing the applications for it.