Twitter Is Turning Off All Free Access to Their APIs Next Week (Or at Least That’s the Plan as of Today)

The Twitter Dev account:

Starting February 9, we will no longer support free access to the Twitter API, both v2 and v1.1. A paid basic tier will be available instead.

At least they gave some notice this time, but it’s emblematic of how seat-of-Musk’s-pants the whole company is now that they can’t even say yet what that pricing will be.

You might be asking, “Wait a second, didn’t Twitter shut down all the APIs for developers a few weeks ago?” But those were just the APIs for full-fledged Twitter clients. Today’s announcement covers all the other ways Twitter APIs could heretofore be used for free. E.g. the bot I wrote back in 2010 to auto-tweet links to each new post on Daring Fireball — that bot will stop working next week unless I pay. I’ll wait to see what the prices are, but I doubt I’ll pay. (Update: Elon Musk, on Twitter, says “~$100/month”.)

There are zillions of tools and bots that use these APIs. Molly White posted a few examples. For example, Alt Text Reader is an automated account that sends back the alt text description for any image on Twitter (that has alt text). There are umpteen weather services, traffic alerts, and just plain fun goofy accounts that send automated tweets. Many of them are run for free and can’t pay; others just won’t pay. This will also break the ability to follow a Twitter account’s posts via RSS — a very cool feature in some feed readers like NetNewsWire.

I don’t know what Musk is thinking, but he obviously has the value proposition backwards. These accounts freely produce content Twitter users enjoy. If anything, Twitter should be paying them, not the other way around. It’s like if YouTube started charging creators to post their videos.

And, of course, another use case for these APIs are tools like Movetodon, that allow people new to Mastodon to find and follow the Mastodon accounts of people they follow on Twitter. Use it now, before it breaks. (And if you’ve already started using Mastodon and used Movetodon, remember that you can re-run it to find people who’ve started Mastodon accounts after the last time you checked.)

Thursday, 2 February 2023