What is Twitter API? What is the latest development? The social media platform has announced it will eliminate free API access for third-party developers. While the concept of an “API restriction” may not sound dramatic, this latest change has users once again worried about Twitter’s future. In simple terms, this means the site’s innumerable automated accounts will grind to a halt, unless the person in charge of them decides to pay for access.
It also means researchers who leverage Twitter’s API to collect public data from the site will lose a key resource — again, unless they pay, CNN reported.
Many of Twitter’s users are not happy about the change, as they say it will fundamentally alter the platform’s culture.
What is Twitter API?
API stands for “application programming interface,” and it’s a framework that allows programs to communicate and connect with each other. In the case of a platform like Twitter, or Facebook or YouTube, this means developers outside the company can create programs that connect with the main product. Twitter’s description of its API says developers can use the feature to “moderate conversations for health and safety,” “enable creation and personal expression,” “measure and analyze what’s happening” and more.
Automated accounts are a common example of how this work appears on the platform. If you’ve ever seen an account that automatically tweets out reminders to hydrate, or random photos of possums, you’ve seen one way an API can be used. Some people have used Twitter’s API to provide accessibility options to content, like alt text or image descriptions. Others, like thread readers or reminders, can help people save and revisit information on the site.
How could restricting API access change Twitter?
Since Twitter’s announcement, many of these accounts have made forlorn announcements that they will cease working once the policy goes into effect on February 9. The Twitter Dev account noted that more details on what users could expect would come next week, while CEO Elon Musk remarked in a separate tweet that “Just 100/month for API access with ID verification will clean” up what he said was abuse of the API.
While accounts that tweet “Lord of the Rings” quotes or make site navigation easier aren’t necessarily the backbone of the platform, users argue they contribute to the social experience that’s become a part of every day life.
APIs also allow people to create searches for publicly available data stored in a digital record, which is extremely useful for research, marketing and other purposes. Some users are concerned about what the API access changes will mean for their work.
It’s not unusual for a platform as big as Twitter to have an API that’s accessible to the public, as it provides more ways for people to use the platform — a relationship that can be beneficial for the company. Tech experts surmise that Twitter’s decision to have people pay for API access is one in a long string of moneymaking attempts since the company came under Musk’s direction.
What is the latest development?
From February 9 this month, Twitter will no longer support free access to its API – both v2 and v1.1.
“A paid basic tier will be available instead. 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 and comprehensive access so you can continue to build with us,” the Twitter Dev account posted earlier this week.
While the official account assured that further details would be provided next week, it is not yet clear how much these new paid tiers would cost. New owner Elon Musk however tweeted on Friday that “just approximately $100 per month for API access with ID verification” would help ward off bot scammers and opinion manipulators.
How will this affect regular social media users?
While this will in no way affect your ability to post a tweet or see, like and share various updates, there may be some other repercussions. Many speculate that the the end of free access would also bring about the end of several useful bots.
Developers will either have to pay a fee or completely stop their projects from February 9 – impacting hundreds of thousands who use these tools to build engagement on their own platforms. According to reports, the change could affect countless bot accounts – from those used for journalism tools to flag stories like @Dataminr to those used to monitor and flag hate speech.
Some such as @folklorebot (a Taylor Swift bot account) and Alt Text Reader (a bot that can can be tagged under any Twitter image to reveal its alt text) have already indicated that they will cease to function if the ‘free’ option is removed.
Elon Musk however insists that the free API system was being ‘abused badly’ by bot scammers and opinion manipulators.
How much does the Twitter API cost?
The Twitter API comes in three subscription packages: Standard, Premium, and Enterprise. Standard is completely free and comes with all the features you need to start using the Twitter API.
If you’re looking for more functionality, such as access to Twitter’s full archive, you’d want to go for a Premium subscription. The Enterprise tier is best for those who want to use Twitter data to offer campaign management or Twitter management services to other businesses.
What can you do with the Twitter API?
You can do a wide variety of things that relate to retrieving, viewing, sorting, and filtering any data on Twitter.
For example, you can:
- Build an app where users can access specific types of Tweets, such as a COVID-related Tweet tracker or a timeline of Tweets that only come from major SaaS organizations.
- Create a website where users can see and read Tweets from certain locations only.
- Launch a personal project to examine the sentiment of your own Tweets.
- Curate certain Tweets to create a story or narrative on your website, for any purpose — to show a trend, demonstrate user engagement with one of your branded hashtags, and more.
Ready to get started? Let’s go over how you can use Twitter’s API step-by-step.
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