ICYMI: Twitter removed free API Access

Log-in for Twitter? More like Pay us to authorize your account on Twitter

Twitter has been a hot mess since Elon Musk took over. Last 9th February, Twitter once again shot themselves in the foot by killing free API access. This free API access is what allows certain apps, websites, and/or programs to let you log-in or sign-up via Twitter. Making it paywalled limits this useful feature and also hurts small-time and big-time developers and creators alike.

In place of free API is a paid “basic tier” so this not only tells you it’s paid but it’s also a subscription-based model with other more expensive tiers coming up. This move was criticized by several developers and some were even forced to close their Twitter projects, and some have told their users to log-in or sign-up elsewhere.

“Over the years, hundreds of millions of people have sent over a trillion Tweets, with billions more every week,” said the Twitter Developer account. “Twitter data are among the world’s most powerful data sets. We’re committed to enabling fast & comprehensive access so you can continue to build with us.”

An API (Application Programming Interface) is a software interface that allows applications to communicate with each other, and Twitter’s API is what allows apps granted with permission, to read important data. API is important when programs, websites, or apps require signing up, and they could use Twitter as an alternative. This is usually seen in a website or app as a “Or Sign-up with” option. When you click on any of these, it will open a new window and ask you to sign-in to that particular website and then you have to grant some permissions or agree with certain terms before the app/website actually logs you in.

In short, APIs allows developers to access important data and services so that their program/app/website can actually communicate with another.

Twitter is stumbling at financial losses ever since Musk took over. With Musk firing half of Twitter’s advertising team, the social media platform has to make money somehow. Twitter Blue, a paid subscription service, was already introduced before the buyout. New policies were implemented or are in the process of being implemented. One major example is asking its users to purchase a verification badge, and those that already have it, will become gold instead. The blue tick is now reserved for those who pay for Twitter Blue.

Paying for API access can prevent growth of small indie developers and steer away larger ones. They may move to platforms like Google, YouTube, or Facebook because they offer free APIs. Even before this announcement however, Twitter already has a paid version of API access, and that is reserved for social media companies from offering revenue by accessing Twitter data.

Musk claimed that bot scammers and “opinion manipulators” are abusing the free API. To Musk, developers are financially well-off enough to afford “just ~$100/month” for API access with ID verification. Let’s see how this will turn out in the coming weeks and months.

Source: The Verge, Mashable