Twitter Ends Free Access to API, Limiting Tools, Bots and Research Projects That Use Platform’s Public Data

The social media platform posted the announcement late Wednesday on the official Twitter Developer account

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Twitter is moving away from allowing developers to access its Application Programming Interface (API) for free and will instead offer a paid basic tier, the Elon Musk-owned social media platform announced on its official Twitter Developer account on Wednesday.

The platform didn’t release details about the pricing but suggested that they would be forthcoming next week.

“Twitter data are month the world’s most powerful data sets,” the note on the developer account reads. “We’re committed to enabling fast & comprehensive access so you can continue to build with us.”  

The API is the gateway for third parties to retrieve and comb through the vast trove of Twitter’s open source data, enabling developers worldwide to program bots and apps to plug into the platform. Twitter had historically provided unfettered free access to the API but also offers “premium, scalable tiers for developers that need to lift restrictions on accessing endpoints and unlock additional enterprise features,” The Verge reported.

Although the price of premium API tiers isn’t publicly disclosed, reports surfaced last year that the fees are in the $99 per month range and go up depending on the level of access needed.

Twitter’s decision on the API is in line with its previous policy to ban third-party apps such as Tweetbot and Twitterific. Small developers have tapped into the API to “create fun tools and useful bots like novelty weather trackers and black-and-white image colorizers” that are not intended to be commercial, per The Verge. “As a result, it’s likely that many bots and tools utilizing Twitter’s free API access will need to charge a fee or be shut down. It would also impact third parties like students and scientists who use the platform to study online behavior and gather information for research papers.”

The steps at Twitter are being taken as advertising on the platform showed signs of rebounding, as TheWrap previously reported, while the Musk-owned platform also partnered with DoubleVerify on a brand safety measure to help alleviate ad buyers’ worry.

Musk’s efforts are part of his ambition to monetize and raise revenues after he spent $44 billion to take Twitter private, including the assumption of $13 billion in debt, the first payment on which was around $1.5 billion. He implemented draconian measures including gutting the workforce by around two-thirds, offering blue checkmark verification as a $8 monthly subscription, or $11 per month if purchased through Google or Apple app stores.

Twitter has also fallen behind on rent for its offices in San Francisco and Great Britain, where the Royal Family-connected Crown Estate landlord has sued Twitter over unpaid rent on office space near Piccadilly Circus in London.