Both users and developers of Twitter’s third-party clients were surprised last week when many popular apps like Tweetbot stopped working out of the blue. Since then, not even Twitter or its new owner Elon Musk (who likes to talk a lot on the social network) have addressed this issue. Today, Twitter continues to disrespect developers, this time with a weak explanation of what’s going on with its API.
Twitter says it is changing the rules of its API
In a new tweet posted to the official Twitter Dev profile, which is focused on providing useful information for developers working with the Twitter API, the company said it is “enforcing its long-standing API rules.” As a result, it acknowledges that some apps are “not working.”
The statement doesn’t say what rules are being changed, and why the company didn’t inform Twitter’s third-party client developers in advance about this change.
Around 11 p.m. ET on January 12, many Twitter users noticed that third-party clients were throwing back error messages related to the Twitter API. This widespread outage is occurring across all third-party apps including Tweetbot, Twitterrific, Fenix, Talon, and many others on iOS, macOS, Android, and Windows.
At first, it was unclear whether the issue had been caused by a temporary outage or by an intentional decision. Although nothing was said by Twitter, The Information heard from sources working at Twitter that access to third-party apps was intentionally suspended. Developers later discovered that the company had banned API access for specific clients such as Tweetbot and Fenix, as other less popular apps continued to work.
Unfortunately, today’s statement from Twitter changes nothing for both users and developers, who now have no idea whether this is the end of their apps or not.
What Twitter is doing to developers is simply disrespectful. Twitter was built around third-party clients, and even the official iOS app only exists today because Twitter acquired Tweetie (a third-party Twitter app for iPhone) in 2010. There are many developers today who devote their work to creating great third-party clients for Twitter, and now they might just lose their jobs.
The situation is even more disrespectful to developers because the Twitter API is not free. In fact, developers have to pay to use it in large-scale apps. And although Twitter hasn’t said a word about it, the reason seems pretty clear.
Ever since Musk became the owner of Twitter, he has been desperately trying to find ways to cut costs and increase the earnings of the company – whose main revenue comes from advertising. And unlike the official Twitter app, third-party apps don’t show advertisements to users. In other words, it seems that Twitter wants to force users back to using its official app so that they can see ads.
Twitter can change anything it wants, and users also have the option to continue using the social network or not. But doing this in the middle of the night without telling the many developers who would be affected by this is just ridiculous. At the end of the day, it seems Musk should learn from his own tweets.
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