Last week Twitter went from tearing down authoritarian regimes to being one.  Boom.  There I said it…..and my Twitter account is still live!  Phew.  I guess my 100 followers can breathe a sigh of relief.  Maybe Twitter is waiting for the Minister of Special Punishments to come up from the Twidroid Memorial Dungeon. 

When you own the kingdom, as Twitter does, you can do what you like.  Their Terms of Service has this dozy term: 

“Twitter may immediately suspend your access to the Twitter API or any Twitter Content…at any time, and without notice to you if you breach any term or condition in this agreement or otherwise engage in activities that Twitter reasonably determines are likely to cause liability to Twitter. (emphasis added by me)

Confused?  I’ll spell it out for you:  Twitter gets to decide.  So we all (my company included) accepts them on the faith that Twitter will rule with a benevolent hand.  But with the sweeping termination of service to almost 100 clients including two of the most popular, Twitter showed an iron hand. 

Managing an ecosystem, whether you are Apple, Google, Twitter, Facebook or some niche service comes with special power and responsibility.  Burn your subjects too much or too often and they’ll find an alternative.  It may take time, but it always happens.  My company is working on our mobile strategy.  You know what?  Android first.  Why put ourselves in the hands of Apple when we don’t know how ecommerce will be handled?  How can there be innovation in search?  Because people no longer trust Google.  When Facebook changed their privacy policy last year an open source social network called Diaspora raised money in a flash.  Egypt erupted when people realized Mubarak was going to put his son on the throne.  Enough!

When the ruler becomes more important than the ruled the ecosystem suffers, the subjects grow restive and the countdown to alternatives starts ticking…and tweeting.