Twitter's Next Headache: API Name Squatting

Twitter continues to work through username squatting issues by reassigning trademarked and even non-trademarked user names to their more appropriate owners. It’s a manual process that sometimes takes weeks, but with Twitter’s growing importance more and more brands are trying to lock up their usernames. Now, though, Twitter has a new headache, and poor organization and planning around Twitter’s third party developer platform is to blame.

When Tweets are published there is an additional layer of information below the main message that says when the message was posted, and how it was posted. Here’s an example message Michael Arrington just posted from the Seesmic Twitter web app. If you click on “Seesmic” in that Tweet it takes you to

But there’s a problem. Twitter’s API allows developers to register any application name, and Twitter messages posted from that third party application will show that name and will link to anything the developer wants. Only names that contain “twitter” or “tweet” are filtered out. Everything else is fair game.

Robert Robb from TweetBorder emailed us about this, and show this test Twitter message that was posted from “Windows.” He also registered the Microsoft name but deleted it to avoid any legal trouble.

We’ve checked, and the TechCrunch name has already been taken by someone.

This isn’t a big issue yet, but we expect to become one shortly. And if you want to avoid the hassle of trying to get your name back from the Twitter API, we recommend you take steps to register your name and application now.