A number of Twitter developers are expressing disappointment with Twitter’s new API structure following recently announced changes that some say will still not meet their needs. On Wednesday night, Twitter unveiled its new API pricing plans, weeks after it initially announced its plan to shut down its free API. Now there are three new tiers for developers: a “Free” tier with 1,500 tweets per month, a $100 per month “Basic” tier with expanded access, and an “Enterprise” tier that is reported to cost $42,000 per month.
For many developers, the first two levels may not be enough and the enterprise level is too expensive.
After the announcement, many developers fear that they will have to stop their projects or switch to providing services aimed at another social network.
An area of impact could be Twitter’s bots. The new free API tier allows an automated account to post 1,500 times per month. That’s about one tweet per hour and could be useful for just a few bot accounts.
The Basic tier, which costs $100 per month, gives developers access to 10,000 read requests and 50,000 post requests. However, there is a limit of 3,000 messages per account per month. For interactive bots like that one that sums up the threads or comments to people with a photo, this limit is not enough. The only option for these developers remains enterprise-level access, which is out of reach for smaller companies.
By comparison, older access tiers yielded developers 500,000 tweets per month for Twitter’s “Essential” tier and 2 million tweets per month for the “Elevated” tier. The rate limits (archived page) were also higher within a 15-minute time frame. For example, the older 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 a lot of use cases.
Due to the changes, developer Luke Hammer said on Twitter that he will shut down his stat app @accountanalysis. He also said he’s trying to find new ways to keep Fedifinder — a service that lets you search for your Twitter friends on the Fediverse — active through crowdfunding and account-level request caching.
Travis Fischerthe developer of ChatGPTbot, which allows people to use ChatGPT on Twitter, said it will also have to shut down its bot. He told AapkaDost he was willing to pay for access, but a limit of 3,000 tweet posts per month per account would render his tool useless. Fischer – along with other developers in the past – also expressed concern that some developers will turn to unofficial APIs or browser automation to scrape Twitter data.
The developer behind it a video translator bot, Alex Volkov told AapkaDost that he will have to shut down the service he thinks is useful. He also runs a tool called Targum video, which allows people to translate videos from any social network. He said much of the tool’s use comes from Twitter and he now needs to switch to other social networks to use and market the service.
Other useful projects such as #buildinpublicthat allowed developers to show off their work, or Mailclipperhqthat sent users a weekly email about their bookmarks is also shutting down, the projects announced on Twitter.
Joe Clarkthe creator of the analytics tool TweetHP, said on Twitter that he already tried to subscribe the new basic level and found that Twitter immediately notified him that the app had already exceeded the monthly limit.
In addition to developers, researchers and academics are also concerned about the future of their projects. Twitter has said it is “looking at new ways” to cater to the community, but until then, they must rely on these existing levels.
Maura Conway, a professor of cyberthreats at Swansea University, said Twitter’s move is “an absolute travesty from a researcher’s perspective” and that several areas of study such as online hate, extremism and misinformation will be “seriously affected”. Carl Miller, co-founder of a digital think tank called Center for the Analysis of Social Media at Demos, said questions should be raised in parliament about the ramifications of Twitter’s moves in areas such as information warfare and electoral integrity.
For research, the free API is practically useless and students may not have money to spend on projects. In addition, research projects usually require substantial data access, which is not available under current plans.
If researchers pointed it out previously, the new API access levels have been a barrier to projects aimed at providing important information during an emergency situation such as a natural disaster.
Elon Musk’s latest move is a cash grab to bolster the company’s earnings. The message is clear: if you want to develop a tool around Twitter for a large audience, pay for business access. Tesla’s CEO has already cut the company’s workforce several times to cut costs. The relaunched Twitter Blue plan isn’t doing well. Analytics suggests it’s only made $11 million on mobile to date.
Twitter had already alienated the developer community by shutting down multiple projects and then blocking popular third-party clients. With this new move, the company is driving people who develop tools to better get the platform away from Twitter.
The company got a chance to introduce a middle tier between basic and enterprise to get indie app makers to sign up and monetize it. By offering developers extreme choices, Musk & co. most of them will abandon their Twitter-related projects. Many users are unhappy with the disappearance of alternative Twitter clients. With more apps and creative bots shutting down, the quality of Twitter’s service will drop further.