Say goodbye to some of your favorite Twitter apps, automated accounts, tools, and services. Twitter will now force everyone who makes the creative things that make the platform fun and enjoyable to pay up or go away.
In the wee hours of the morning on Wednesday, Twitter’s official account for developers, @TwitterDev, announced that the company will no longer provide a free access tier to its API. Instead, there will soon be a paid subscription to Twitter’s basic API tier. And how soon will this happen? Next week. Feb. 9.
An API is a software interface that allows two applications to communicate with each other, and this particular one allows developers to access Twitter’s data and services through official channels. In turn, many developers have been able to create an array of both free and paid products that enhance the Twitter experience. Requiring payment will certainly kill many of the free services and accounts.
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The response has already been heavily criticized by users across the board. Some developers have already announced their intention to end their Twitter projects.
For example, the creator of the Possum Every Hour Twitter account, which auto-tweets out a photo of a possum every hour, posted that the account will stop tweeting next week when the free API tier ends. The account has more than half a million Twitter followers.
The decision to remove any free access to its API shows just how much Twitter is flailing to make money. The company has lost roughly 50 percent of its advertisers, which are its main revenue source, after Musk took over and started implementing his vision of the Twitter platform. In order to make up for losses in revenue, Musk rolled out new paid products such as its US$8 Twitter Blue premium plan. The ability to buy a verified badge with Twitter Blue turned off even more brands from the platform. And, thus far, Twitter hasn’t even been able to convert an abysmal 0.1 percent of its monthly active users into paying subscribers.
Removal of the free API tier is a questionable path to greater revenue, because it could stifle creativity from developers who aren’t looking to monetize their projects. These creators often create services that promote and encourage more usage of Twitter. Small indie developers who are just starting out will be able to implement their ideas on platforms that still provide free API access, such as Facebook or YouTube.
It’s important to note that Twitter already has a paid tier of service for its API. This existing premium tier, which lifts access limits implemented on the basic tier, serves those social media companies that make revenue from offering Twitter data.
And what about the scammers and spam bots? Won’t this decision kill them off? Not likely.
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Access to Twitter’s API required a user to apply and be approved for an official developer account. Thus, Twitter was able to monitor its usage and suss out bad actors. For this reason, many scammers and spammers who utilize automation never used the API in the first place, instead operating with workarounds such as web scrapers.
Elon Musk already killed off third-party Twitter clients like Twitterific and Tweetbot earlier this month. Just this week, users have complained about Musk’s recent algorithm changes making their feeds unusable. Now, he’s coming for everything else. He’s given developers no details regarding the cost of keeping their projects and services alive. And, oh yeah, don’t forget, those developers have just one week to figure it all out.