Twitter in hot water over Meerkat spat?

One federal regulator seems to be hinting that Twitter might have been operating unfairly by imposing limits on what it shares with live-streaming company Meerkat.

During a House Judiciary Committee hearing on net neutrality on Wednesday, a GOP member of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) indicated that the new rules on Internet service providers don’t do enough to crack down on other potential instances of unfairness, such as the interaction between websites.

ADVERTISEMENT

As an example, he pointed to Twitter’s decision this month to block Meerkat’s access to its social graph, the Twitter service that manages people’s followers.   

Meerkat is “a very innovative live-streaming application that some have argued has been crippled by Twitter refusing access to social graph,” Commissioner Ajit Pai said. “Those are the kinds of threats that antitrust is perfectly well suited to examine, but the FCC simply isn’t able to do it based on” the new net neutrality rules.

“Many believe that Twitter’s decision will harm Meerkat’s ability to compete,” he added in written testimony.

Twitter’s decision to limit Meerkat’s access to its social graph means that people who sign up for the service won’t automatically be connected to their Twitter contacts.

The decision came shortly after news that Twitter had purchased Periscope — another live-streaming application similar to Meerkat. 

Meerkat has rocketed to people’s attention in recent weeks, especially among political and technology circles. The service allows users to easily stream live video and tweet out a link to that feed, so followers can tune in.

Last week, White House press secretary Josh Earnest sat down for an interview with an MSNBC reporter broadcast through Meerkat. Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush (R) also hopped onto the service recently.