The Problem With Twply

Bloggers are enraged over a day old service called Twply that lets Twitter users forward messages that include their user name to their email address.

The first round of complaints centered on spam, because Twply asks if it can send a Twitter message from your account saying that you’ve tried the service (and lots of people are). Then someone noticed that the service was sold for $1,200 immediately after launching.

Neither of these issues really bother me. The message Twply sends out is a standard practice with new web services, although they aren’t very clear in their description of what’s going to happen when they ask permission: “Support Twply on your first login?” And with regard to the sale, meh. I don’t know or particularly trust the people behind Twply, so it doesn’t matter to me that they’re selling it to yet another unknown person or entity.

But there are other issues with the service that do bother me. First, in the sale listing Twply says that the buyer can generate revenue via advertisements in the emails being sent out: “The site currently has no revenue, but the site could do very well with ads within the emails. The emails with the @replies in them are designed to have html in them where you could add ads.”

I don’t want ads being added to these emails without my permission. And this leads me to the second, and bigger problem, with Twply – there is no way to turn the service off. The only thing you can do on the site is add your Twitter credentials and then let it run. There is no way to turn off the service once you’ve started using it (Update: apparently you can disable it via a screen I didn’t see when I first used it, see comments).

Well, there is one way. That’s by changing your Twitter password so that the service can’t access your account. Lots of people are doing that now, as will I.

This is a reminder that Twitter really needs a third party authentication system so that users don’t need to type their credentials into random sites to try out new services. Perhaps this debacle will give Twitter the push they need to deploy that feature.