Some popular accounts likely to disappear from Twitter as Elon Musk ends free access to API

Move to pay-for-access application program interface continues platform owner’s push for revenue

The latest set of changes to Twitter will likely spell the end of some of your favourite accounts, tools and features, as the platform’s owner, Elon Musk, continues to look for ways to increase revenue.

In a post on Thursday morning, Twitter’s developer account announced free access to its application program interface (API) would be cut off and replaced with a paid version from 9 February.

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 🧵

— Twitter Dev (@TwitterDev) February 2, 2023

The API provides access to Twitter data, which can be used to create third-party apps, automated bots, customer service tools for brands, and enables researchers to report on trends or patterns on the site.

While many larger companies already pay for access, it is unlikely some of the smaller developers of popular tools and accounts will be able or willing to pay.

Here’s a roundup of some popular tools and accounts that could disappear once the pay-for-access API comes into effect.

Thread readers

When someone posts a long thread of tweets on a topic, often someone will @ the thread reader app, which will generate the content of those tweets in a more readable format.

I'm @ThreadReaderApp a Twitter bot here to help you read threads more easily. To trigger me, you just have to reply to (or quote) any tweet of the thread you want to unroll and mention me with the "unroll" keyword and I'll send you a link back on Twitter 😀

— Thread Reader App (@threadreaderapp) November 25, 2017

Possum photos every hour

Many automated accounts are made for fun, such as those that tweet out photographs or artwork at regular intervals.

Regretfully, the Possum Every Hour account has already announced it will cease operating once the changes are brought in, but it says its work will continue on Twitter’s rival network Mastodon.

Hi All, I regret to announce you all that this bot will stop working on 9th of February (Next week) due to new Twitter's API policy. I have no intention on paying Twitter for basic API usage.

You can continue to follow the bot on Mastodon:

It's been fun

— Possum Every Hour (Please See Pinned Tweet) (@PossumEveryHour) February 2, 2023

Auto-delete services

Twitter lacks a function to allow you to delete your tweets en masse or automatically, so third-party apps using Twitter’s API have filled that gap.

Many of them charge, which suggests they might already pay Twitter for API access, but the changes could spell doom for others.

If you think it’s time to delete tweets, we are here for you:

— TweetDeleter (@TweetDeleter) October 28, 2022

Weather, environment and health trackers

Earthquake bots and other accounts set up to post automatic updates on the weather, environment or health issues such as Covid can be extremely useful. They generally work by scraping data from other sites and automatically tweeting it using the Twitter API.

Often they’re run on a volunteer basis, and not-for-profit, so they could also be in trouble following the changes.

A 1.4 magnitude earthquake occurred 9.94mi E of Seven Trees, CA. Details: Map:

— SF QuakeBot (@earthquakesSF) February 3, 2023

Brand customer service accounts

If you’re a social media manager at a big company, you might use Hootsuite or a similar platform to keep tabs on the company’s social accounts and track customer complaints. That too relies on Twitter’s API.

The first hint Twitter would clamp down on use of the API was in mid-January when Twitter suddenly shut off access for Tweetbot, a third-party Twitter app optimised for Apple products. The move was not initially explained, but the company later said it was enforcing a long-held policy.

Say Goodbye to Tweetbot.

We've been proud to serve you over the last 12+ years, but due to circumstances beyond our control, we have to shut down Tweetbot.

Thank you so much for your patience and outpouring of support over these tough times at Tapbots.

— Tapbots (@tapbots) January 20, 2023

Twitter’s move to charge for API access is the latest in a string of changes Elon Musk has made since he took over the company in an effort to make it profitable.

Twitter has not said what it will charge for basic API access, nor has it indicated whether the charge will apply to all users of the API, including researchers.

Twitter no longer has a communications department to approach for comment, but questions were sent to the email address previously used by the organisation to field press enquiries.


Josh Taylor

The GuardianTramp

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