Twitter today announced it was acquiring the “trust and safety as a service” startup Smyte to help it better address issues related to online abuse, harassment, spam, and security on its platform. But it also decided to immediately shut down access to Smyte’s API without warning, leaving Smyte’s existing customers no time to transition to a new service provider.
The change left Smyte’s current customer base stranded, with production issues related to the safety of their own platforms.
Needless to say, many were not happy about this situation and took to Twitter to register their complaints.
According to Smyte’s website, its clients included Indiegogo, GoFundMe, npm, Musical.ly, TaskRabbit, Meetup, OLX, ThredUp, YouNow, 99 Designs, Carousell, and Zendesk – big name brands that used Smyte’s feature set in a variety of ways to combat fraud, abuse, harassment, scams, spam, and other security issues.
While Twitter had earlier told TechCrunch that it would be “winding down” Smyte’s business with existing clients, what that apparently meant was that it was going to announce the acquisition, then effectively shut off the lights over at Smyte and leave everyone in the lurch.
According to reports from those affected, Smyte disabled access to its API with very little warning to clients, and without giving them time to prepare. Customers got a phone call, and then – boom – the service was gone. Clients had multi-year contracts in some cases.
And again, to reiterate, Smyte is a provider of anti-abuse and anti-fraud protections – not something any business would shut off overnight.
In npm’s case, it even led to a production outage.
Twitter declined to comment, but we understand it was making phone calls to affected Smyte customers today to match them with new service providers.
The decision to
smite smyte an existing customer base the minute the startup joined Twitter isn’t a good look for either company, and is especially ironic in light of Twitter’s promises of “trust and safety” improvements in the months to come.
That’s how it works?
Update, 6/22/18. 3:42 PM ET:
Twitter has released a statement regarding this situation, which was shared via the Twitter account of Mike Montano, VP of Twitter’s Engineering team, just now. He writes “There have been concerns around how we’re transitioning Smyte’s customers. We could have done better and are learning from this experience. Here’s the email I just sent to our team.”
The full email and tweet is below: