Twitter to end access to its free API, paid version launching soon

by Johnson Daniel

Twitter will discontinue free access to the Twitter API on February 9 and replace it with a paid version as the microblogging website seeks new ways to monetize the platform.

The Twitter Developer account announced in a series of tweets that the company will be discontinuing support for both the legacy v1.1 and the new v2 Twitter APIs. It did not say how much it intends to charge for API usage right away.

The move follows Twitter’s recent abrupt change in the terms of its API; the API was used by several popular Twitter clients, including Tweetbot and Twitterrific. The majority of third-party Twitter apps have discontinued their mobile apps.

“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,” the Twitter Dev account said Thursday. “Over the years, hundreds of millions of people have sent over a trillion Tweets, with billions more every week.”

Thousands of developers use the Twitter API for a variety of purposes, including tracking changes among Twitter accounts and providing alerts. These are enjoyable side projects for those who are unwilling to pay fees for something that they are not monetizing.

Then there’s another type of Twitter API user: researchers. Twitter’s new announcement could have an impact on research in a variety of areas, including hate speech and online abuse. Twitter is frequently used by universities to study human behaviour in various regions. Limiting free API usage could also deter companies from developing methods to detect the spread of misinformation on Twitter.

Since its inception, Twitter has had an odd relationship with developers. However, despite the inconvenience, the relationship was beneficial to both parties. Third-party companies were frequently the ones releasing new products and features for Twitter, and the social network helped by not charging them for API usage.

Musk paid $44 billion for Twitter in late October. He borrowed approximately $12.5 billion to finance the transaction. Musk must pay an additional $1.5 billion in interest alone to keep Twitter alive, a service that is not profitable. As a result, Musk is attempting to make Twitter more self-sustaining.

Twitter has revamped — and increased the cost of — its subscription service and changed how tweets appear on a user’s timeline to make the platform more engaging, profitable, and appealing to an otherwise dwindling advertiser base.

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