POSTED: Thursday, December 6, 2012 - 2:00am
UPDATED: Thursday, December 6, 2012 - 2:04am
NEW YORK (CNNMoney) — Instagram voluntarily pulled the plug on its Twitter photo integration on Wednesday, upping the stakes in a growing turf war between the rival social networks.
Previously, when Instagram users tweeted about their latest Instagram photos, the image would appear inline with the tweet. At the moment, those inline images are cropped and improperly formatted in mobile apps. Going forward, the images will cease to exist at all in any Twitter product, according to Instagram.
Early chatter speculated that this was the latest act of Twitter revoking access, as it recently did with LinkedIn and several other third-party apps. But Twitter posted a status update pointing the finger straight at Instagram, and Instagram founder Kevin Systrom defended the decision on stage Wednesday at the Le Web conference in Paris.
In a statement emailed to CNNMoney, he was very blunt about Instagram's reasoning.
"A handful of months ago, we supported Twitter cards because we had a minimal web presence," he said. "We've since launched several improvements to our website that allow users to directly engage with Instagram content through likes, comments, hashtags and now we believe the best experience is for us to link back to where the content lives."
In plainer terms: Instagram, which just launched a Web platform, wants to establish itself as an entity that exists outside its smartphone apps. To do that, it's prepared to go head-to-head with the current microblogging leader.
Systrom went out of his way to explicitly mention that Facebook's acquisition of Instagram, which closed three months ago, had little to do with the decision. That said, having Facebook in your corner makes it decidedly less risky to cut back your Twitter exposure.
The two companies have been firing potshots at each other all year. Facebook acquired Instagram in part because it knew Twitter was eying the company. Soon after, Twitter revoked Instagram's ability to locate a user's Twitter friends.
For consumers, the new spat is slightly inconvenient, but it's hardly the end of the world. It just means Twitter users have to make one extra click to view an image. Users will still be able to tweet links from inside Instagram's apps, and those links will show up on Twitter as they always have.
Chances are most of us power Instagram users will have already seen our friends' images anyway while checking the app on our phones.