It launched less than a month ago, but it's already been almost killed. Until Friday, the Meerkat live stream app let users post live streams and automatically share them with all their Twitter followers. But as the app's creators arrived at SXSW to promote their invention, Twitter cut off Meerkat's access to their social graph. The move will surely put a hamper on the app's rapid momentum, but judging by the popularity it's already seen, Twitter's restrictions shouldn't kill it altogether. Live streams are the new selfies, after all.
Prior to Friday, Twitter users could download Meerkat with automatic followers (your Twitter followers who were also using Meerkat), and anything you livestreamed with Meerkat would automatically be tweeted. Meerkat users even signed in with Twitter and used the platform to send notifications of their activity on the live stream app. For nearly a month, Twitter allowed this to happen, but with its recent purchase of its own live stream service, Periscope, it could no longer allow a competing service to take advantage of its social graph. On Friday, Twitter officially notified Meerkat's owners that it would be limiting its access.
A Twitter spokesperson confirmed to BuzzFeed:
We are limiting their access to Twitter’s social graph, consistent with our internal policy. Their users will still be able to distribute videos on Twitter and log in with their Twitter credentials.
In other words, Meerkat users will have to do what Twitter users had and continue to do — build their social following from the ground up.
In an interview with Fast Company, Meerkat's cofounder Ben Rubin said that Twitter gave him very short notice of the new restrictions — two hours, to be exact.
We are not naïve, we knew it was coming. We thought that we would at least get a week notice — a fair game. ... I get it that when you own the house, you own the rules. You can say, I’m about to launch my own app, and I don’t want you to have the graph. But I think the two hours was a little aggressive and not working toward building a community.
Despite the abrupt announcement, Meerkat can still totally thrive. After Vine's six-second videos took the social landscape by storm, people have been gravitating more toward livestreaming, whether it's something bizarre that's happening on your street corner or the State of the Union address, people have been just as hungry to post and watch live streams on their social platforms.
Rubin himself revealed to Fast Company that when he checked stats the morning after Twitter called him, people were using the app about twice as much as the day before. They had posted roughly 3,000 live streams before 11 a.m. in Austin, where SXSW is surely providing countless moments to livestream.