This post has been updated.
When Twitter announced last week that it would no longer provides free access to its API As part of the platform’s new monetization strategy, the response from developers, academics and researchers was swift.
Twitter was to begin charging users on Thursday for access to its APIs, or application programming interfaces — software that allows users to collect public data from the platform and program automated bots and applications — but has since The policy has been revised again.
The paywall may have affected popular accounts such as Tweetdelete, a bot that deletes users’ old tweets in bulk, Season And Earthquake trackers that post real-time data, and thread reader, a bot that “unrolls” long Twitter threads. Academics, researchers and scientists also use the API to study online behavior and collect data on hate speech and misinformation.
However, after pushback from developers, CEO Elon Musk backed out of the idea. In a series of tweets, Musk was the first to suggest that access to the API would be available all verified users, They then announced that a free version would be available, though only for certain bots.
“Responding to feedback, Twitter will enable a lite, write-only API for bots providing good content, which is free,” Musk Tweeted On February 4th.
Twitter on Wednesday revealed the final changes to some of its API Policies, The current free access to the API will be available until February 13, and after that, a new free access tier will be introduced with a limit of 1,500 Tweets per month.
In a statement, Twitter announced that free access is “extremely important to our ecosystem.”
Other changes to the API include a paid Basic access tier for $100 per month with less API usage, but with an additional feature that lets users access Twitter’s advertising API.
Twitter’s API rules change under Musk
Previously, Twitter offered three free access levels for its primary API: Essentials, Advanced, and Academic Research. Social media company also offers premium Edition With additional features, although it does not list prices for premium access.
Twitter has a mostly open API, which means that anyone can sign up to use the API. However, there are users need to apply For developer accounts, declare the purpose of the account in the questionnaire.
While many Twitter bots have an “automated” label under their name that identifies them as bots, fake and spam accounts still exist.
This has been a primary concern for Musk, who vowed in April 2022 to fight the bots or “die trying!” In its $44 billion buyout of the social media company.
It was also a turning point in Musk’s Twitter acquisition. At one point, Tesla’s CEO claimed that Twitter had published the wrong number of fake accounts and threatened to back out of the deal if Twitter did not provide him with additional data about bots and fake accounts.
Several months into his ownership of Twitter, Musk began targeting the free API overall. He where did it go that “the free API is being badly abused right now by bot scammers and opinion manipulators. There’s no verification process or cost, so it’s so easy to spin up 100k bots to do bad things.”
Elon Musk gestures during a press conference at SpaceX’s Starbase facility near Boca Chica Village in South Texas on February 10, 2022. (JIM WATSON/AFP Photo via Getty)
According to TechCrunch, the developers replied to Musk that the monetized API would not completely block spam accounts, as these bots do not use the official API, but instead use stolen keys.
However, as of January, Twitter quietly began purging API access for third-party or alternative apps such as Twitterrific and Tweetbot.
Twitterrific, launched by Iconfactory in 2007, was the first Twitter desktop client that allowed users to view tweets in real time. Twitter’s famous blue bird logo was adapted from Twitterrific. The app has now gone out of business.
“We regret to say that the sudden and indecent demise of the app is due to an unannounced and unspecified policy change by an increasingly temperamental Twitter – a Twitter we no longer trust and do not wish to work with,” Sean Haber, who worked on Twitterrific, wrote in late January.
Daya Lee, a computer scientist who created software for the Twitter account VaccineBotTO, helps people find available vaccine appointments in high-risk downtown Toronto areas, April 22, 2021. (Steve Russell / Toronto Star via Getty Images)
The backlash escalated when Twitter announced on February 2 that it would charge users for API access. Diverse bot accounts don’t want to pay the new price – including alt text reader, Which makes tweets more accessible to users with visual impairments – said they will likely be closed.
“I think a lot of the good free bots are going away,” Bill Snitzer, who la quakebotA Twitter bot that provides data on when earthquakes occur told Yahoo Finance at the time.
Student developers and academics also expressed concern about what the policy change would mean for research and data gathering.
“This decision limits the scale and scope of research that can be conducted,” Dean Freelon, associate professor and researcher at the University of North Carolina, told Yahoo Finance about the proposed API paywall. “This means we will know less about how Twitter is used for both good and bad, which I would argue is a net loss for society.”
And although Twitter has scaled back its policy to continue offering a version of the free API access, the change has drawn skepticism from some developers.
,[It’s] Not clear if it’s completely ‘free’ or not” Tim Chambers, US digital practice lead at Davy Square Group told Yahoo Finance. “This may require TwitterBlue verification, as in previous tweets, Elon thought all such accounts needed to be ‘verified’.” If so, that’s $100 to $130 per bot per year.”
“But even if completely free, it appears to be write-only in keeping with Elon’s previous ideas, and only about 50 posts can be published per day,” said Chambers, who writes for Mastodon. Researching the exodus of Twitter bots. “That alone kills many, many non-professional bots who need read access, or who by design post far more per day than they should.”
Chambers also expressed skepticism about the new $100 per month paid Basic Access tier.
“Requiring $100 a month, or $1,200 a year to read and write, kills another whole tier of good bots, and not to mention entire classes of academic or independent researchers,” he said. Said. “The devil will be in the details of how bad that ‘low level of API usage’ is because of how bad it looks to those who can afford to have that level.”
Additionally, Twitter announced that it would be discontinuing its current premium API access level, which is billed as a paid subscription. Instead, the platform is encouraging users to select the Enterprise access level — a more expensive offering than Premium, Chambers said.
“This marks a new chapter for the Twitter API to enhance quality, reduce spam, and enable a thriving ecosystem,” Twitter said in a statement on Wednesday.
Tanya is a data reporter at Yahoo Finance. Follow him on twitter. @tanyakaushal00.
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