Well, this is certainly problematic.
Twitter has announced that, as of February 9th, it’s cutting off free access to its API, which is the access point that many, many apps, bot accounts, and other tools use to function.
Starting February 9, we will no longer support free access to the Twitter API, both v2 and v1.1. A paid basic tier will be available instead ????— Twitter Dev (@TwitterDev) February 2, 2023
That means that a heap of Twitter analytics apps, management tools, schedulers, automated updates - a range of key info and insight options will soon cease to function. Which seems like the sort of thing that, if you were Twitter, you’d want to keep on your app.
But that’s not really how Twitter 2.0 is looking to operate - in a bid to rake in as much revenue as absolutely possible, in any way that it can, Twitter will now look to charge all of these apps and tools. But most, I’d hazard a guess, will simply cease to function.
The bigger business apps already pay for full API access - your Hootsuite’s and your Sprout Social’s - so they’ll likely be unaffected. But it could stop them from offering free plans, which would have a big impact on their business models.
The announcement follows Twitter’s recent API change which cut off a heap of Twitter posting tools, in order, seemingly, to stop users accessing the platform through a third-party UI.
Now, even more Twitter tools will go extinct, a broad spread of apps and functions that contribute to the real-time ecosystem that Twitter has become. Their loss, if that’s what happens, will have big impacts on overall Twitter activity.
On the other hand, some will see this as another element in Twitter’s crackdown on bots, which Twitter chief Elon Musk has made a personal mission to eradicate. Musk has taken some drastic measures to kill off bots, some of which are having an impact, but Musk himself has also admitted that such efforts are reducing overall platform engagement.
This, too, could be a killer in this respect
It’ll also open the door to Twitter competitors, as many automated update apps will switch to other platforms. This relates to things like updates on downtime from video games, weather apps, and more. There are also tools like GIF generators and auto responders - there’s a range of tools that could now look for a new home on Mastodon, or some other Twitter replicant.
In this respect, it seems like a flawed move, which is also largely ignorant of how the developer community has facilitated Twitter’s growth.
But Elon and Co. are going to do things their own way, whether outside commentators agree or not - and maybe this is actually a path to gaining new Twitter data customers, and boosting the company’s income.
But I doubt it.
If there are any third-party Twitter apps that you use, it’ll be worth checking in to see if they’re impacted before next week.
UPDATE (2/2): Elon Musk has provided some more insight into the decision-making process, and coming costs, of this change.
Yeah, free API is being abused badly right now by bot scammers & opinion manipulators. There’s no verification process or cost, so easy to spin up 100k bots to do bad things.— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) February 2, 2023
Just ~$100/month for API access with ID verification will clean things up greatly.
Which makes a lot more sense, and is not entirely unreasonable - though it will still knock out a lot of good bots and tools that are being run for free.
But also, this being the case, why wouldn't you include these details in the initial announcement? Such is life at Twitter 2.0.