This article is more than 1 year old

No more free API access, says Twitter: You pay for that data

Surely this is the trick to profitability

Twitter is eliminating access to its API, but the once-free comms integration will still be available to those who want it – for a price.

"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's developer account said this morning. 

Claiming its dataset is "among the world's most powerful," Twitter said it was committed to enabling "fast and comprehensive access" to devs wishing to create features and apps linked to the social media platform or draw on its data, more details of which would be shared next week.

That's all the Elon Musk-owned company had to say on the matter, so now it's up to those who still have Twitter API access – researchers, data scientists and the like – to determine how they'll cope with the loss of access to data necessary to their work. 

Paid Twitter API access has previously been available for those with heavy use needs.

Welcome to the club

App developers who used Twitter's API had a similar rude awakening on January 14 when Twitter killed a number of third-party clients with no official word as to why. Justification came later, on January 17, when Twitter said it was beginning to enforce "long-standing API rules" that didn't appear in the site's developer agreement for another couple of days. 

On January 19, the developer agreement was updated to add language making it against the terms of the deal to use Twitter's APIs "to create or attempt to create a substitute or similar service or product to the Twitter Applications."

Anything else going wrong over there we should know about?

Elon Musk appears to be resorting – publicly, at least – to troubleshooting Twitter platform problems with his own anecdotal experiments.

The Twitter/SpaceX/Tesla CEO yesterday responded to tweets alleging that accounts set to private were somehow getting a greater reach than when set to public – even for the same tweet. 

Musk made his account private "to test whether you see my private tweets more than my public ones," and around 24 hours later reversed the setting, adding that the move "helped identify some issues" that would be addressed by next week.

It's unclear what the issue actually was, but it lays bare the depths of challenges Twitter is experiencing right now, with rumors swirling that fewer than 550 engineers remain at the company.

Several popular third-party Twitter applications, like Iconfactory's Twitterrific and Tapbots' Tweetbot, have been discontinued by their developers in response. Others that remain working, like TweetDeck wrapper Tweeten, have expressed solidarity with developers affected by the decision and have said they're unlikely to continue updating the app.

Iconfactory cofounder Gedeon Maheux told The Register that, while it looks like Twitter learned from the "debacle of just switching off third-party access," it's but a tiny improvement for the "thousands of developers out there" who are still going to find themselves without access.

Maheux said he wasn't surprised Twitter decided to remove free API access, but he was still upset. "Twitter has thousands of outside developers who have built useful tools, games, and analytics on the platform that will now all have to be scrapped," Maheux told us. 

Cutting off API access looks like it's just the latest in Musk's attempts to turn Twitter profitable. The billionaire is curretly facing lawsuits accusing him of leaving the company's bills unpaid, while late last year one of his first moves as boss was to make verification checkmarks available for $8 a month, causing a spate of brand impersonations from which it's unclear the company has recovered.

As to whether the move will make Twitter money, that's not clear at all. Maheux doesn't appear to believe so, and said Twitter is squandering what good will remains between the platform and developers. 

"Few if any of these small devs will be able to afford the kinds of access they had prior which will only speed Twitter's eventual self destruction," Maheux opined.

Twitter didn't respond to our questions. ®

More about


Send us news

Other stories you might like