In the middle of the night, Twitter made an announcement that damaged many advertisers of research, bots, and applications based on free access to the platform API to work. Twitter announced in a tweet starting on February 9, Twitter “will no longer support free access to the Twitter API.” Instead, many developers will have to pay to access public data or suddenly shut down their projects.
Twitter has yet to share how much its new “basic paid tier” will cost, and the company has tentatively promised “more details on what you can expect in the coming weeks.” Thousands of small developers may have to lock down free tools like @ThreadReaderApp or @RemindMe_ofThis, The Verge reportedInfluence hundreds of thousands of followers who trust small developers to build tools that help increase their engagement with the platform.
Entrepreneur and producer Tom Coates joins the many advertisers making the Twitter announcement. Coates tweeted that, while “it is not unreasonable to want to find a way to charge those developers who withdraw more value than they contribute” to Twitter, “a week’s observation and no price indication shows Twitter is chaotic and trust. No one is going to build a business on that. “
Another tech entrepreneur and renowned commentator, Anil Dash, warn that putting the API behind a paywall “will increase the loss of valuable content on this platform (many of the most effective and unique content creators published through the API) while abusive bots will continue to roam around API, as always.”
Twitter’s latest interest in small developers comes after the company banned third-party clients like Twitterific and Tweetbot last month. In that instance, Twitter failed to notify developers before removing access. In this case, Twitter provides a very short notice before removing free access to the Twitter API, which may also prevent students and activists from continuing their research on the platform, including gathering valuable insights into how the platform handles incorrect information.
When Twitter started blocking third-party clients, @ThreadReaderApp posted that its developers “expect more transparency” from Twitter. Currently, that app—which helps Twitter users “open” threads in a more accessible format—joins others waiting to find out what it will cost to continue operating next week. The Verge notes that the premium API levels starting at $99 per monthso the basic level will be less expensive.
Forbes called it Twitter’s decision to remove free access is a “money grab” that will make Twitter a less fun place, including the power loss of fun bots like @FoxesEveryHour, which just tweets photos of foxes. That bot tweeted to confirm that it will stop working on March 9, saying, “I don’t earn anything with this bot so I can’t pay to pay, sorry. I will try to find a solution/alternative to this. “
Twitter’s paid base level is likely to target large developers accessing the Twitter API to support commercial projects. Those developers will need to evaluate whether the cost—whatever it ends up being—is justified to continue operations.
Meanwhile, users said reporter Alex Goldman have begun mourning the impending loss of beloved bots, including bots that tweet everything from Boggle games to randomly generated ASCII night skies.