Twitter’s new API policy does more harm than good
Soon after announcing that it will replace the free access to its API with a “paid basic tier,” Twitter changed tack and said it will, after all, provide a free, write-only API for bots “providing good content.” Either which way, Twitter’s new API policy doesn’t sit down well with experts, who believe it lacks clarity.
Developers use Twitter’s API to build third-party apps and services, and bots, such as Random Weather, which tweets live weather along with images of different places around the world, and Big Tech Alert, which tweet whenever Big Tech CEOs follow or unfollow a new person.
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Twitter’s new owner, Elon Musk, initially pitched the idea of charging about $100 for API access, before convoluting the matter further by adding the “good content” rider for free API access.
To bot or not
Many bot developers had balked at the idea of paying $100/month for providing free harmless information to their hordes of followers. Musk’s proposal for conditional free access hasn’t helped matters either.
Twitter’s latest curbs to the Twitter API are as controversial as its decision last month to block API access to third-party Twitter clients such as Tweetbot and Twitterific, forcing them to shut down.
Technology analyst, Annie Morris, Editor in Chief at Made in CA has been closely following Twitter’s recent changes to its API policy.
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She tells us that while she understands the platform’s reasoning behind restricting access to its API, particularly in order to curb malicious activity on the platform, she believes Twitter could have approached this change in a different manner.
According to Morris, the way in which this policy change was announced and rolled out has caused frustration and confusion among developers.
“From my perspective, the sudden switch to a write-only API for “bots providing good content that is free” is a confusing and disorienting move for many developers who have been using the platform’s API for years,” said Morris, adding that “these developers, who have been providing valuable services and experiences for Twitter users, now find themselves in a state of uncertainty regarding the future of their businesses.”
So while she commends Twitter for the intent behind the changes to its API policy, she thinks the execution could have been better thought out.
Morris hopes Twitter would have taken a more transparent and inclusive approach, where developers were given the opportunity to provide feedback and understand the reasoning behind the change.
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“Clear communication and a more consultative approach with the developer community would have gone a long way in ensuring a smoother transition,” said Morris.