Twitter Makes It Official: No More 3rd Party Clients Allowed

from the driving-away-all-the-power-users dept

Last week, Twitter (with no notice or explanation) seemed to cut off API access to the most popular 3rd party Twitter clients. It was unclear if this was done on purpose or not. Earlier this week, it became pretty damn clear that it was done on purpose, after one of those providers, Tweetbot, dug up an old unused API key and tried to switch it in… only to have it cut off soon after.

Then, on Tuesday, Twitter put out this oddly worded statement about the API.

Tweet from the @TwitterDev account saying: "Twitter is enforcing its long-standing API rules. That may result in some apps not working."

Developers of popular apps insisted that this was bullshit. They’ve been abiding by the API’s rules from day one. They could find no “long-standing” rule that they violated.

On Thursday, two days after this statement, and six days after the API was cut off… Twitter quietly amended its “long-standing” Developer Agreement to effectively ban third party apps. Specifically, in the “restrictions” list, a new clause was added saying that you can’t use an API to “create a substitute or similar service or product to the Twitter Applications,” meaning no more third party apps.

Again, as we’ve said before, this is a similar, but dumber, echo of what happened at Twitter a decade ago, when it feared competition from some 3rd party app developers and cut them off — a move that the company long regretted as it stunted the company’s growth and innovation (which frequently was driven by those third party developers — even including the word “tweet” and the idea of a blue bird as Twitter’s mascot). At least when it happened last time, Twitter explained what it was doing to those apps, and let them know what was going on.

This time, as with so much of Musk’s nonsense, there’s been no transparency, no clarity, nothing at all. Just fuck over tons of Twitter’s most loyal userbase.

And, it doesn’t seem like users who loved those apps as a way to use Twitter are taking it well:

Even if you could argue that there was a good business reason for doing this (and I could easily argue the many terrible business reasons for doing it), the manner in which it was done is pathetic, cowardly, and obnoxious. Elon could have explained the reasoning, and even given a period of time to wind down things. Instead, these long-standing services, that many power users relied on to use Twitter simply got cut off with zero notice for days. And then, days later, were told they were breaking rules (that they weren’t breaking). Finally, days after that, the “rules” were quietly changed to ban them. Again, without any communication.

Considering that the new owner keeps talking about how he’s working to bring back “trust” on the platform, this seems like a pretty good way to torpedo trust among the most important partners and users of your increasingly collapsing site. Especially laughable is that all of this comes just as Musk claimed that “transparency builds trust.”

You should maybe try it, then, dude.

Filed Under: , , , ,
Companies: iconfactory, tapbots, twitter

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Comments on “Twitter Makes It Official: No More 3rd Party Clients Allowed”

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51 Comments
This comment has been deemed insightful by the community.
Anonymous Coward says:

I’m continually surprised that anyone is still on Twitter every time more news comes out. Everyone has been given a hundred reasons to leave and it’s just continually getting worse. Are people sticking around just to see the last part of the ship dip below the waterline?

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This comment has been deemed insightful by the community.
Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

That’s because it’s a monopoly.

Only if you ignore reality.

Are you just forgetting about Facebook? Instagram? TikTok? YouTube? Mastodon? Parler? Truth? Gab? WhatsApp? WeChat? Telegram?

And those are only the ones I could come up with off the top of my head. I’m sure there are plenty more.

I know you are a coward and will not answer this question, but I will ask anyway….

What exactly does Twitter have a monopoly over?

This comment has been deemed funny by the community.
Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

Some people believe monopoly in the tech sector works like qualified immunity.

This comment has been deemed funny by the community.
Gwiz (profile) says:

Re:

Are people sticking around just to see the last part of the ship dip below the waterline?

Maybe they are waiting for the string quartet to stop playing just to be sure it was actually an iceberg.

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Most are just waiting to see where everyone else is swimming to.

The isn’t the Titanic with a ship isolated in the middle of nowhere. The ship is sinking in a sea populated with hundreds of islands, some large and some small. But, they don’t want to end up on an island their friends and family don’t swim to.

Even that’s a poor analogy. In reality, most people already used multiple social networks, they just used Twitter for a few things that it did better than others. They can still use those other places, excepting those who were too toxic for the other places.

kallethen says:

Re:

Are people sticking around just to see the last part of the ship dip below the waterline?

I don’t have a Twitter account, but I for sure am watching this mess with popcorn in hand. I’m sure MANY other non-users and users alike are doing the same.

jsf (profile) says:

Re: Community and existing contact method

For many people they already have an existing community on Twitter. So leaving Twitter would mean leaving their community.

A still have a Twitter account, but have never really been active there. In the case of some individuals and organizations it is still the only way I have of contacting them. So until they set up a new means of contact I will still have an account and nothing else.

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Matthew M Bennett says:

How many times have you said your business shouldn't based solely

….on someone else’s business who change their mind? I remember 100’s of times over the years you called that a bad business model.

I honestly have no idea if this is a good decision or not but Musk assuredly has reasons.

But you shouldn’t write on this subject, you’re unhinged over it. No, Mastodon isn’t happening.

You don’t know what “doxxing” is

You don’t know how the first amendment works either.

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Anonymous Coward says:

Re:

I’m not sure where to start first. The article never claimed Musk couldn’t do this, or that he didn’t have a reason. Only that the reasons were stupid and its not likely to go better than last time this was attempted. Its mostly commentary on how the author predicts this will impact twitter based on prior history with this behvaior. You seem to have built an entirely straw man version in which the author dictates how twitter Must run, rather than simply quoting users who never liked the default twitter interface.

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Anonymous Coward says:

Re:

“Mastodon isn’t happening.
You don’t know what “doxxing” is
You don’t know how the first amendment works either.”

I see your claims.
I do not see any evidence, don’t expect any.

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Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

So Mastodon went from 500k active users, peaked at 2.5 million active users, then settled to 1.8 million active users, in the space of about 4 months.

And from this, your conclusion is “Mastodon isn’t happening?”
Exactly what kind of growth over what timeframe would you expect in order to conclude otherwise?

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Anonymous Coward says:

Re:

I honestly have no idea if this is a good decision or not

Then maybe you shouldn’t write about it.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re:

Can you point to anywhere Mike said that Musk couldn’t do this?

Most of the commentary was about why it’s a bad decision and also why the way in which it was done (with no communication at all, lying about longstanding rules etc) is particularly assholish.

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Matthew M Bennett says:

Re: Re:

Reading comp is not your friend. I never said that Masnick said Musk couldn’t do this. I said Masnick used to routinely mock a business built on the permissiveness of another company.

JMT (profile) says:

Re:

How many times have you said your business shouldn’t based solely on someone else’s business who change their mind? I remember 100’s of times over the years you called that a bad business model.

What does this have to do with business models? The complaints are from normal regular users. You’re getting your topics mixed up.

I honestly have no idea if this is a good decision or not but Musk assuredly has reasons.

“I don’t understand the Dear Leader but I just know he’s right!”

You don’t know how the first amendment works either.

What does this have to do with the 1st Amendment? The government has nothing to do with this. Again, you’re getting your topics mixed up.

You’re grasping dude, I think you need a little break.

This comment has been deemed insightful by the community.
kdc (profile) says:

It feels like Musk is deliberately trying to kill Twitter.

I’m sure that this has been observed by others, but to me it sure looks like after putting himself in a position where Musk was compelled to buy Twitter, and after first trying to mold Twitter in his own image, he is now putting his foot down as hard as he can on the accelerator to drive it off a cliff. Perhaps Musk has decided that the only way to cut his losses is to throw gasoline on the Twitter fire and watch it burn, and file for bankruptcy?

David says:

Re:

Well, Musk is going to turn Twitter into that magic thing that brings in all the cash he spent and more. He cut cost by throwing out most of his work force. Which means that the native Twitter experience is more or less by necessity crap and people will rather use other Twitter clients.

That significantly reduces the options for bringing in all the cash. Now of course there is no working plan for that, but it’s clear that whatever Twitter can offer in return for that cash will suck, so it is clear that non-sucking options are an impediment to whatever grand plan Musk is going to dig up.

Now it would seem like a good idea to first come up with the grand master plan and then prune impediments to it. But that’s what sane people would do, and sane people have far and wild shown to be incapable of becoming the richest man on Earth, so there is no point in behaving like a sane person.

Frankly, by now this looks like Musk hopes to learn as much as he can by vivisection: cut a living thing into pieces until it stops breathing and try to figure out how to make best use of what he learnt about individual bits of partly unbelievable resilience.

Bloof (profile) says:

Re: Re:

He wants Twitter to be his Fox News, his personal outlet to push his agenda, voices he wants to be heard and force the culture ever rightwards, but he also wants it to be massively profitable so people will return to kidding themselves he’s a business genius and not a subsidy queen. He doesn’t realize that for a long time the apolitical side of Newscorp, Fox TV, Sky, 20th Century Fox, the various non newspaper publishers ad so on have been subsidizing the propaganda wing of Murdoch’s empire, and without that Fox News, even with the money they get by default from every US cable subscriber, and the various tabloids are not viable businesses.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

Also, HarperCollins and Zondervan Publishing.

I maintain that the only way to help the US unfuck itself involves the forcible dismantling of news Corp on humanitarian grounds.

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Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

Oh wait…. you don’t because you’re a fucking idiot.

Please do not say that.
If you say that, it takes away the last new(unsaid) thing the trolls can truthfully say (thought their way of saying it is very round about and cumbersome).

This comment has been deemed insightful by the community.
That One Guy (profile) says:

Once can be coincidence. Twice is suspicious. Three times...

How bloody cowardly does he have to be to do this again?

Just say he doesn’t want third-part apps to interact with Twitter, trying to pretend that this is ‘just enforcing longstanding rules’ that he just made is beyond pathetic and dishonest, though given it’s the second time it’s happened that I can think of offhand I guess this is another of his gutless ways to dodge responsibility for his choices.

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Anonymous Coward says:

You can look forward to dumping 5+ billion illiterates too with new digital infrastructure.

The mental illness for that whole post-information superhighway era has been 3rd world hogwash.

A stupid story about nothing. Shit-filler for inepts.

This comment has been deemed insightful by the community.
Anonymous Coward says:

I will just say this much, any Twitter users who haven’t tried Mastodon yet really should. Before my Twitter client stopped working I could scroll through tweets and never see anything interesting, but on Mastodon there is muck more useful info and interesting posts. It is a little different from Twitter but not that much, and not different in a bad way.

(However if you are a Trump loving right wing fascist, please ignore everything I said above, it doesn’t apply to you. You already have Trump’s Lies Social which is built using Mastodon’s tech, so just stay there, because you probably won’t feel very welcome on Mastodon)

Mononymous Tim (profile) says:

He’s worth 151.8 billion. I’m thinking he’s just flushing Twitter down the toilet because he’s pissed that he was forced to buy it after batting it around like a cat does to a mouse, and he can afford it. Typical petulant child throwing a temper tantrum just to get attention.

That One Guy (profile) says:

Re:

He does seem to be petty and spiteful enough to pull something like that but even so I strongly suspect that the simpler answer, that’s he’s not nearly as smart as he thinks he is and refuses to accept that he doesn’t know what he’s doing, is the more likely explanation.

Anonymous Coward says:

Twitter announced the default “For You” feed returning to the official app on January 11. Third party apps stopped working a day or so later.

Coincidence? I think not.

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