A number of Twitter developers are expressing their disappointment with Twitter’s new API structure after recently announced changes that some say will still not meet their needs. On Wednesday evening, Twitter revealed its new API pricing plans, weeks after initially announcing its plan to shut down its free API. Now, there will be 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 reportedly costs $42,000 per month.
For many developers, the first two levels may not be sufficient and the enterprise level is too expensive.
After the announcement, a lot of developers are worried that they have to either shut down their projects or pivot to providing services focused on another social network.
One area of impact could be Twitter’s bots. The new free API tier would allow an automated account to post 1,500 times a month. That’s roughly one tweet an hour and it could be useful for only some 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 cap of 3,000 posts per account per month. For interactive bots like the one that summarizes threads or replies to people with a picture, this limit is not sufficient. The only option for these developers remains enterprise-level access, which is out of reach for smaller businesses.
By comparison, older access levels provided developers with 500,000 tweets per month for Twitter’s “Essential” level and 2 million tweets per month for the “Elevated” level. The rate limits (archived page) were also higher within a 15-minute window. For example, the older API allowed apps to post 200 tweets per user per app in 15 minutes. The new API allows only 100 tweets per user in 24 hours. This essentially kills many use cases.
As a result of the changes, developer Luca Hammer said on Twitter he will shut down his stat app @accountanalysis. He also mentioned that he is trying to find new ways to keep Fedifinder — a service that lets you search for your Twitter friends on the Fediverse — active by way of crowdfunding and caching account-level requests.
Travis Fischer, the developer of ChatGPTbot, which lets people use ChatGPT on Twitter, said that he will also have to shut down his bot. He told TechCrunch he was ready to pay for access, but having a limit of 3,000 tweet posts per month per account would make his tool useless. Fischer — along with other developers in the past — also expressed concerns that some developers will move to unofficial APIs or browser automation to scrape Twitter data.
The developer behind a video translator bot, Alex Volkov, told TechCrunch he will have to shut down the service that he believes is useful. He also runs a tool called Targum video, which helps people translate videos from any social network. He mentioned that a lot of the tool’s usage comes from Twitter, and now he will need to switch to other social networks to use and market the service.
Other useful projects like #buildinpublic, which allowed developers to show off their work, or Mailclipperhq, which sent users a weekly email about their bookmarks, will also shut down, the projects announced on Twitter.
Joe Clark, the maker of the analytics tool TweetHP, said on Twitter that he already tried subscribing to the new basic level and found that Twitter instantly notified him that the app has already crossed the monthly limit.
Apart from developers, researchers and academics are also worried about the future of their projects. Twitter has said that it is “looking at new ways” to cater to the community, but until then they have to rely on these existing tiers.
Maura Conway, a professor of cyber threats at Swansea University, said that Twitter’s move is “an absolute travesty from a researcher perspective” and different study areas like online hate, extremism, and misinformation will be “badly affected.” Carl Miller, co-founder of a digital think tank called Centre for the Analysis of Social Media at Demos, said that there should be questions in the parliament about how Twitter’s steps would impact areas like information warfare and electoral integrity.
For research, the free API is practically useless and students might not have any money to spend on projects. Plus, research projects usually need substantial data access, which is not available under current plans.
As researchers have pointed out previously, the new API access levels will be a hindrance to projects aiming to provide important information during an emergency like a natural calamity.
Elon Musk’s latest move is a money grab to bolster the company’s revenue. The message is clear: if you want to develop any tool around Twitter for a large audience, pay for enterprise access. The Tesla CEO has already slashed the company’s staff multiple times to save costs. The relaunched Twitter Blue subscription is not doing great. Analytics suggests that it has brought in just $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 driving people who develop tools to make the platform better away from Twitter.
The company had a chance to introduce a middle tier between basic and enterprise to get indie app makers to sign up and earn revenue from them. By providing developers with extreme choices, Musk & co. will have most of them abandon their Twitter-related projects. Many users are unhappy with alternative Twitter clients going away. With more apps and creative bots being shut down, the quality of Twitter’s service will dip further.