How Tweetbot pirates expose themselves on Twitter

Tweetbot 2.7.3 for iOS (iPad screenshot 003)

Just to make it clear: iDB does not condone piracy. Quite the opposite, we strongly condemn it. While no accurate data exist on how widespread the App Store piracy issue is, by all accounts it’s anything but neglectable, especially when certain dudes jailbreak their devices with the sole purpose of using pirated apps. Tapbots, the people behind the popular Twitter client called Tweetbot, has found a novel way to identify users who are pirating the app.

It gets even better: these folks actually have been exposing themselves on – oh the irony – Twitter. Regardless, I doubt public exposure is going to shame them, let alone persuade them to pay for Tweetbot…

So how did Tapbots do this?

Easy, each pirated copy of Tweetbot automatically inserts this into the compose field:

I’ve been demoing a pirated copy of @tweetbot and really like it so I’m going to buy a copy.

But why would anyone hit the Tweet button to name and shame themselves on Twitter? According to Gizmodo UK which reached out to Tapbots’ Paul Haddad, it’s just good ol’ human stupidity.

“We don’t force them to post it,” Tweetbot’s Paul Haddad wrote on Twitter. “We fill the Tweet sheet, its up to the user to post or cancel.”

Scpirated tweetbot tweet

Now, how bizarre is that?

A simple Twitter search reveals this has been going on for at least a few days.

Tweetbot received a minor update today, adding “Your Tweets, Retweeted” back to the Retweets tab and fixing display of URLs instead of the real URL in some profile views.

Tweetbot for the iPhone and iPod touch is a $3 value. The iPad build is provided separately and will run you an additional three bucks. The Mac version is a $20 download so you’re looking at a cool $26 to have Tweetbot installed on all your devices.

Now, I keep hearing certain people whining about the price. Their arguments always boil down to this: a few bucks is too high a price to pay for a Twitter client.

I couldn’t disagree more.

You should really put the blame on Twitter and its stupid cap on the number of users a third-party Twitter client can have. It’s got nothing to do with developers whatsoever. Moreover, all Twitter clients are also bound by the same rules.

Tapbots acknowledged as much in an October 2012 blog post accompanying the Twitter for Mac launch:

TapBots explain the commotion in a blog post announcing the official release of Tweetbot for Twitter (that’s the official name): Because of Twitter’s recent enforcement of token limits, we only have a limited number of tokens available for Tweetbot for Mac.

This limit and our desire to continue to support the app once we sell out is why we’ve priced Tweetbot for Mac a little higher than we’d like. It’s the best thing we can do for the long term viability of the product.

Is there a way out of this mess?

We know some will not be happy about Tweetbot for Mac’s pricing, but the bottom line is Twitter needs to provide us with more tokens for us to be able to sell at a lower the price.

Since these tokens are provided at the sole discretion of Twitter, there’s nothing Tapbots can do about it. No matter how you look at it, Twitter is intentionally clamping down on third-party clients in the hope that people will switch to its official software.

The problem is, folks who pirate Tweetbot are also using up tokens Twitter allocated to Tapbots, thereby bringing the app closer to the cut-off threshold.

My message to those shameless pirates: unless you can afford Tweetbot, use Twitter’s free client instead.

Best thing not to mess with karma.

What’s your position on app piracy and do you applaud Tapbots’ move?