Twitter has rolled out its new pricing plans for API access, which could force many smaller apps and third-party tools out of the market, with the Twitter 2.0 team significantly upping the price, and reducing the capacity, of developer and researcher access.
Twitter’s API access program is what enables developers to build apps that read and write Twitter data, which is how scheduling tools, Twitter analysis platforms, bot accounts - how all of these third-party apps are able to operate.
Up till now, Twitter has offered a generous free API access tier, but now, Musk and Co. are looking to up the cost, which will see many developers forced out of the Twitter tools market.
Twitter’s updated API access tiers are as follows:
- Free – This includes write-only access to Twitter, with the ability to post 1,500 tweets per month
- Basic – Twitter’s new Basic tier will cost $100 per month, and will enable the posting of up to 3,000 tweets per month at the user level, or 50,000 tweets at the app level. The read limit for this tier is 10,000 tweets per month
- Enterprise – This is for big platforms that make significant use of the Twitter API, and it’ll cost accordingly. There are no specifics listed for this category, but reports suggest that it will cost upwards of $40k per month
The new restrictions on tweet posting will hinder a lot of apps, while the cost of moving up to higher tiers will be too much to justify. And already, various third-party tools have announced that they’ll be bowing out, which could see some of your favorite Twitter apps no longer working the next time you log in.
Twitter announced last month that it would be cutting off its free API access tier entirely, which sparked uproar and angst in the developer community. Twitter chief Elon Musk then changed his mind, and said that Twitter would maintain free and cheap access for certain elements. But as now presented in these new tiers, that access is extremely limited, which is effectively the same result as canceling it for many apps.
It could also effect larger tools, like Sprout Social and Hootsuite, who’ll now need to assess whether the new changes will up their costs, and whether that increase is then passed onto users. There’s no word on this as yet (and many developers are already paying a premium for access), but you could see changes coming for any Twitter-connected tool.
Twitter says that the previous API access tiers will be depreciated over the next 30 days, with apps forced to switch over, or shut down, in that time.
Twitter also says that it’s working on an alternative access plan for academic researchers, which could provide more access to tweet data. But it hasn’t finalized that offering as yet, so researchers, for now, will also have to choose one of these new tiers to work with.
Restricting access in this way could reduce the relevance of Twitter as a data source, while also making it more difficult to assess performance, which could have flow-on impacts. But the Twitter 2.0 team’s view is that the current API access is enabling bot operators to build their networks, so it needs to change, while Twitter also needs to make more money, as advertisers continue to reduce their spend.
Will that impact Twitter usage more broadly? It seems unlikely to change how general users interact with the app, but the broader impacts could compound over time, as fewer apps and tools are able to access tweets.