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Why Twitpic is really shutting down

It’s difficult to imagine, but when Twitter launched eight years ago, there was no way to tweet photos. The network was fairly limited in its early days, and a slew of third-party apps filled in the holes using Twitter’s API. Users would upload their photos to a third-party service Twitpic and then tweet the link as a way to get around Twitter’s limitations.

As the network added features and started tightening its API restrictions, Twitpic managed to live on. But now it’s dead.

In a Thursday blog post, Twitpic founder Noah Everett announced he was shutting down Twitpic after six years. In a curious twist, Everett said the service is done for because of Twitter.

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Twitpic is shutting down after a dispute with Twitter.

“A few weeks ago, Twitter contacted our legal demanding that we abandon our trademark application or risk losing access to their API,” Everett wrote. “This came as a shock to us since Twitpic has been around since early 2008, and our trademark application has been in the USPTO since 2009.”

The company’s trademark application was in the final stages of being approved when Twitter reached out to Twitpic’s counsel. Everett said Twitter “implied [Twitpic] could be denied access to their API” if the service didn’t abandon the application.

Everett decided to shut down Twitpic rather than fight Twitter, he said. Twitter’s side of the story is a little different: “We’re sad to see Twitpic is shutting down,” a Twitter spokesperson told Time. “We encourage developers to build on top of the Twitter service, as Twitpic has done for years, and we made it clear that they could operate using the Twitpic name. Of course, we also have to protect our brand, and that includes trademarks tied to the brand.”

So Twitpic could’ve carried on as usual, but would’ve had to forego trademarking its name.

Twitpic was a valuable service in Twitter’s infancy. But now users can embed photos in tweets. Photos shared with third-party apps show up as links, not in-line images. The need for Twitpic was gone, and the service’s time was running out, regardless of Twitter’s take on its name. Also, Everett has another project in the works: A messaging platform called Pingly.

Twitpic is officially closing down on Sept. 25, so you have a couple weeks to export your photos and videos. That tool isn’t yet available, but will be in the next few days.

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