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Twitter apparently felt it had to do something to stop Meerkat from cornering the market before Periscope had a chance.Twitter justified the move by citing an “internal policy” against providing its social graph to direct competitors.

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Like Foursquare before it, Meerkat harnesses your Twitter network to do something that Twitter can’t—in this case, mobile live streaming.With venture-capital fortunes at stake, you’ll find plenty of prognosticators arguing both sides.But there’s another, more likely possibility: Meerkat will turn out more like Foursquare or Vine—apps that add an important new dimension to the social-media landscape without revolutionizing it. In Vine’s case, it was short, simple, recorded video. One of Meerkat’s problems is similar to the one that ultimately forced Foursquare to pivot away from location-based status updates: The service it provides could simply be integrated into existing social networks.Twitter, it turned out, had secretly acquired a live-video app of its own a few months earlier, and was planning to launch it soon.The app, called Periscope, is very similar in concept to Meerkat, a source familiar with the product tells me.Meerkat’s other big problem is the same one Vine faced when Twitter launched it two years ago: Making videos is easy, but making good videos is hard.

Most people’s early Meerkats are even more mundane than you might imagine.

Twitter was a tiny, struggling startup when its founders brought the social network to the buzzy South by Southwest Interactive conference in 2007.

It was the hit of the show, and within months it had hundreds of thousands of users and piles of venture capital.

At its best, however, Meerkat restores some of the immediacy and intimacy that the Web has lost as Facebook, Twitter, and Tumblr have become platforms for people’s carefully groomed personal brands.

You can follow someone on Twitter for years without gathering an inkling of their real-life personality.

But as the show has grown, the noise has drowned the signal.