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Third-party Twitter apps stopped dead with no explanation from El Musko

Sorry, when exactly are you going to sod off to Mars, mate?

Numerous third-party Twitter clients stopped working on Thursday evening, Pacific Time, and as of Friday morning, they remained non-functional.

It's not clear why this occurred. The developers of apps like Twitterrific, Tweetbot, Echofon, and other third-party apps for interacting with Twitter have been unable to learn more from the company, now depopulated by staff cuts and stripped of its communications team.

"There’s been no official word from Twitter about what’s going on, but that’s unsurprising since the new owner eliminated the employees dedicated to keeping the API up and running smoothly, including the developer evangelists who previously provided communication with third-parties," lamented a post on the blog of Iconfactory, maker of Twitterrific.

"We wouldn’t know whom to reach out to at Twitter even if such people existed. We’re in the dark just as much as you are, sadly."

Twitter developers, long accustomed to indifferent, inconsistent treatment under previous management, can now enjoy active contempt.

In the absence of official word from the company, developers and other interested parties have wondered aloud whether Elon Musk, who bought Twitter and is remaking it in his own edgelord image, could be stupid enough to disable or discontinue the Twitter API, the mechanism through which third-party clients access Twitter data.

We leave that question open for readers to answer.

Musk himself – the de facto Twitter public relations team – has yet to weigh in on the subject. His latest thought dropping, at 0814 Pacific Time, was, "virtue rises with the sun."

What a time we live in when such wisdom is shared so freely, not counting the $44 billion Musk spent to acquire Twitter and ensure his ability to share what's on his mind.

But speculation about the death of the Twitter API is premature, based on the fact that some clients on specific platforms continue to function. Twitterrific for macOS, Spring for macOS and iOS, Fenix for iOS, and Aviary 2 for iOS and macOS continue to work, apparently.

The Register attempted to connect to the Twitter API using CURL, as suggested in the developer documentation, using a valid Bearer Token:

curl --request GET '' --header 'Authorization: Bearer $TWITTER_BEARER_TOKEN'

The response we received suggests authentication problems, perhaps a consequence of unannounced changes.

  "title": "Unauthorized",
  "type": "about:blank",
  "status": 401,
  "detail": "Unauthorized"

Attempting to sign in to TweetBot for macOS produced a similar error:

Re-authorization failed
Failed to request token from Service unavailable.

It may be that the authentication issues are a consequence of lack of ad visibility or payment in affected clients. Twitter has not been generating nearly enough revenue to match its expenses – or at least so Musk says since he took over – which has led the SpaceX supremo to cut staff and close offices at the microblogging site, and promote a subscription service called Twitter Blue. So this could be a prelude to demanding that third-party clients display ads or work only for Twitter Blue subscribers.

The "new cruelty" may also be related to these apps providing a default chronological view of tweets now that Musk has mandated algorithmic tweet ordering (considered more monetizable) should be the default. Or it may be related to the number of users of the third-party app – one theory is only apps with more than 100,000 users were de-authorized.

Whatever the case, those who develop software for Twitter appear to be fed up. Jeff Johnson, who runs Lapcat Software, observed that his Tweaks for Twitter, a browser extension for blocking user-hostile Twitter cruft, is the second best way to use Twitter.

"The best way to use Twitter is... not at all," he said, via Mastodon. ®

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