Twitter blocks free access to its API, paid version coming soon

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Last month, Twitter abruptly blocked several third-party clients citing “API rules”. The move put many popular third-party Twitter apps like Tweetbot and Twitterrific out of business. Thankfully, it’s not permanent. Twitter will allow these platforms to access its API (application programming interface) again. But there’s a caveat. It will no longer be available for free. Developers will have to pay to use its Twitter API.

“Twitter is enforcing its long-standing API rules. That may result in some apps not working,” the social network tweeted from its developer account (@TwitterDev) on January 17. It didn’t provide further clarification on the matter. The company failed to detail the rules that the affected third-party clients violated. Now, more than two weeks after that tweet, @TwitterDev has tweeted again saying that it will “no longer support free access to the Twitter API.”

This change will be effective for everyone starting Thursday, February 9. The few third-party clients that were lucky to survive last month’s abrupt blocking from the company will also run out of luck in a few days. Both v2 and v1.1 of Twitter API will no longer be available for free. Instead, Twitter will introduce a “paid basic tier”. The company hasn’t revealed the pricing details yet but said that it will provide more information on the proposed API policy change soon. Likely before February 9. We will keep you posted.


Twitter wants to make money from its API as well

Twitter has been experimenting with new ways of making money for the past few months. To be precise, after Elon Musk purchased the company for $44 billion in late October last year. It drastically reduced its global workforce to cut operational costs and started selling the coveted verification checkmark, aka blue tick. The social network also relaxed its political advertising policy to allow more ads on the platform. Musk has also been exploring other potential revenue streams, such as paid direct messages.

The latest in a string of such efforts is hiding Twitter API behind a paywall. Since Twitter can’t show ads to users who browse the social network via third-party clients instead of its mobile apps or the web, it was losing ad money from them. By making developers pay for its API, it will generate some revenue from third-party clients as well. If developers don’t pay, their apps will be unusable. As such, those users will have to switch to Twitter’s own platform or third-party solutions that are paying the company.

“Over the years, hundreds of millions of people have sent over a trillion Tweets, with billions more every week. Twitter data are among the world’s most powerful data sets. We’re committed to enabling fast & comprehensive access so you can continue to build with us,” Twitter said. It remains to be seen whether the company will allow free access to its API to researchers. Twitter currently offers special access to its API for academic research.