New Twitter API levels still miss the mark, developers say
A number of Twitter developers are expressing disappointment with Twitter’s new API structure after recently announced changes that some believe will still not meet their needs. On Wednesday evening, Twitter unveiled its new API pricing plans, weeks after initially announcing plans to shut down its free API. Now there will be three new tiers for developers: a “Free” tier with 1,500 tweets per month, a “Basic” tier at $100 per month with extended access, and an “Enterprise” tier that would cost $42,000 per month.
For many developers, the first two tiers may not be enough, and the enterprise tier is too expensive.
After the announcement, many developers fear that they will either have to stop their projects or turn to providing services focused on another social network.
One area of impact could be Twitter bots. The new free API tier would allow an automated account to post 1,500 times per month. That’s about one tweet per hour and might only be useful for some bot accounts.
The basic tier, which costs $100 per month, gives developers access to 10,000 play requests and 50,000 post requests. However, there is a cap of 3,000 posts per account per month. For interactive robots like this which summarizes the discussions or replies to people with a photo, this limit is not sufficient. The only option for these developers remains enterprise-level access, which is out of reach for small businesses.
By comparison, older access tiers provided developers with 500,000 tweets per month for Twitter’s “Essential” tier and 2 million tweets per month for the “High” tier. Rate limits (archived page) were also higher in a 15-minute window. For example, the old API allowed apps to post 200 tweets per user per app in 15 minutes. The new API only allows 100 tweets per user in 24 hours. This essentially kills many use cases.
As a result of the changes, the developer Lucas Hammer said on Twitter that he would shut down his stats app @account analysis. He also mentioned that he was trying to find new ways to keep Fedifinder — a service that lets you find your Twitter friends on Fediverse — active through crowdfunding and account-level request caching.
Travis Fisherthe developer of ChatGPTbot, which lets people use ChatGPT on Twitter, said it will also have to shut down its bot. He told TechCrunch he was willing to pay for access, but having a limit of 3,000 Twitter posts per month per account would render his tool useless. Fischer — with other developers in the past – also expressed concerns that some developers will switch to unofficial APIs or browser automation to fetch data from Twitter.
The developer behind a video translator robot, Alex Volkov, told TechCrunch that he will have to shut down whatever service he sees fit. It also runs a tool called Targum video, which helps people translate videos from any social network. He mentioned that much of the tool’s usage comes from Twitter, and now he will have to move on to other social networks to use and market the service.
Other useful projects like #buildinpublicthat allowed developers to show off their work, or Mailclipperhqwhich sent users a weekly email about their favorites, will also be shut down, the projects announcement on Twitter.
Joe Clarkthe creator of the TweetHP analytics tool, said on Twitter that he already tried to subscribe the new base tier and found that Twitter immediately informed him that the app had already exceeded the monthly limit.
In addition to developers, researchers and academics are also worried about the future of their projects. Twitter said it is “looking for new ways” to meet community needs, but until then they must build on those existing levels.
Maura Conway, professor of cyberthreats at Swansea University, said Twitter’s decision is “an absolute travesty from the perspective of researchers” and that different areas of study like online hate, extremism and disinformation will be “hard hit”. Carl Miller, co-founder of a digital think tank called the Center for the Analysis of Social Media at Demos, said there should be questions in parliament about the impact of Twitter’s measures on areas such as information warfare and electoral integrity.
For research, the free API is pretty much useless, and students might not have money to spend on projects. Additionally, research projects typically require substantial access to data, which is not available under current plans.
As researchers pointed out Previously, new API access levels would be a hindrance to projects aiming to provide important information during an emergency such as a natural disaster.
Elon Musk’s latest move is a cash grab to boost the company’s revenue. The message is clear: if you want to develop a tool around Twitter for a large audience, pay for enterprise access. Tesla’s CEO has already cut the company’s staff several times to cut costs. The revived Twitter Blue subscription isn’t doing too well. Analytics suggests it’s only made $11 million on mobile to date.
Twitter had already alienated the developer community by shutting down several projects and then blocking popular third-party clients. With this new decision, the company is pushing people who develop tools to improve the platform away from Twitter.
The company was lucky enough to introduce a middle tier between basic and enterprise apps to entice independent app makers to sign up and earn revenue from it. By giving developers extreme choices, Musk & co. will see most of them drop their Twitter-related projects. Many users are unhappy with the disappearance of alternative Twitter clients. With more apps and creative bots shutting down, Twitter’s quality of service will drop further.
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