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Twitter Plays Hardball With Facebook Over TV -- And TV Networks Gripe

Facebook has been trying to follow Twitter into social TV -- so Twitter is trying to shut the door.

Peter Kafka covers media and technology, and their intersection, at Vox. Many of his stories can be found in his Kafka on Media newsletter, and he also hosts the Recode Media podcast.

TV networks love to work posts from Twitter, Facebook and other social networks into their programming. Now Twitter is trying to make it harder for its rivals to get airtime.

Over the past few weeks, Twitter has been telling a group of companies that help collect and display social media posts on TV and in public settings, like conferences and stadiums, that if they want the best access to Twitter’s data, they need to work exclusively with Twitter.

The move is aimed primarily at Facebook, but it is ruffling feathers at the TV networks. Twitter officials have told network executives that they are demanding exclusivity because they want to “protect their investment in social TV,” but TV executives complain that Twitter’s moves will make their jobs more difficult.

Both Twitter and Facebook declined to comment.

Last September, Mass Relevance, the most prominent of the social media collection/display companies, announced that it would work with Facebook to help highlight “public conversations” on the social network for TV networks and other clients. But last month, Mass Relevance said it would now work exclusively with Twitter for “on-air and in-venue public display integrations.”

That means that any Mass Relevance clients that want to publicly display posts from Facebook, Instagram, Google+, etc., will have to use other providers to sort through those networks.

But Twitter is offering the same carrot-and-stick conditions to Mass Relevance’s competitors, including LiveFyre, WayIn, Tagboard and, which will force them to choose between Twitter and everyone else. The move will also mean that people who want to display social posts on TV or in public settings will end up having to work with multiple partners instead of one, adding cost and complexity.

It’s that effort which rankles TV industry officials, who complain that Twitter has previously played up the notion that the company is trying to help TV networks instead of competing with them.

“It’s not going to break anybody’s back, but it is annoying,” said one TV executive. “I think Twitter is testing their leverage with the networks.”

At this point Twitter likely has some leverage. Though Facebook has many more users than Twitter, and has been trying to catch up to Twitter when it comes to TV chatter, Twitter users generate much more commentary around live TV shows, TV industry officials say. So if they want to incorporate fresh social media commentary about their programs, they’re going to need to use Twitter.

This article originally appeared on

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