If you're a Twitter user, congratulations: You're also a Huffington Post contributor! For a few hours last night, it appears practically all of Twitter was republished on HuffPo. But now our tweets have disappeared from the site. What's going on?
The Huffington Post briefly sported a page for apparently every single Twitter user on which their tweets were republished. This page was accessible via a special HuffPo URL based on your Twitter username. Like this: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/twitter/[username]
Thing is: Commenter Robina alerted us to the phenomenon at 10:53pm. But by the time we checked—less than an hour later—all of HuffPo's Twitter URLs (including ours) led only to a blank page with this cryptic message:
HuffPost is building a directory to help our audience discover and
follow the very best Twitter users. The feature is currently being
tested and will launch in the near future. Our initial tests
resulted in some confusion so we will do more testing before making
it public. Thanks, HuffPost Tech Team.
The "confusion" is evidenced by angry tweets posted while the system was still active, as startled users found that their twitter feeds had been integrated without their permission into HuffPo and surrounded with ads. Here are a few.
(Commenter diamiercoles001 writes: "I have a locked account, and checked in at the beginning of all this. Got an error message stating that "This twitter user has protected his timeline.")
So what's the deal? If the current message is to believed, the Tweet-syndicating system will be used to create a directory of "interesting" twitter users. Seems like a legitimate thing. But judging from what was tweeted during the ill-fated "testing" session, every Twitter user who visited "Huffingtonpost.com/twitter/[username]" was able to see their feed republished on the site. How was HuffPo able to scrape all of Twitter, even for those couple hours? Will this directory of users be voluntary? Does HuffPo have some kind of agreement with Twitter that allowed them to republish the entire site? So many questions, so little technical expertise. Maybe our Internet expert Ryan Tate will be able to explain all of this tomorrow.
If you have any information or a screen-shot of what the republishing page actually looked like, email us. (Special bonus points if you have a shot of Sarah Palin's tweets republished on HuffPo.)