Tatsuhiko Miyagawa's Blog

On Twitter disallowing the use of Find friends API on Tumblr

August 23, 2012

Remember we used to export friend’s email address as an Outlook CSV format and upload the file to social networks to find friends? Can we do the same for Twitter friend list?

Twitter disallows Tumblr and Instagram using the “Find Friends” API, that lets users port out their friendlist on other social network by matching their linked usernames.

This makes me a little upset. Who I follow on Twitter is the result of me making decisions for years on which people make valuable tweets that i should keep updated with, and I should have the right to take it away to any network I go with.

But fortunately there’s a loophole for this we should be able to use. The API is still there for anyone to use unless you’re a social network, and we can do the same thing like we used to do for email addresses way back before Google/Yahoo opened up their API to access address books.

Exporting Gmail contacts as Outlook CSV

And you can import people on the exported list on sites like LinkedIn.

All we need is a format and app/service to allow exporting them, and then Instagram/Tumblr can have a upload button to lookup users based on the uploaded list. Portable Contacts came to my mind (there’s even an unofficial server for Twitter although it’s outdated and no worky), but I assume this protocol has been dead/abandoned and might be too complicated to use. All we need is just a list of usernames on Twitter.

Anyway, such a web app could make the connection flow as smooth as we do with Twitter today, but there’s a chance where Twitter suspends API keys for such web site, based on their recent move.

A standalone app/script, where even a user may have to create their app token, to get the list of Friends cannot be banned, since otherwise how do they make the API still open?