Twitter frustrating developers as it cuts off some third-party apps

Posted:
in General Discussion
Some Twitter clients have stopped working -- and it appears to be an intentional move by Musk and company.

Twitter is now limiting third-party apps
Twitter is now limiting third-party apps


Twitter has had numerous controversies ever since Elon Musk took over, and the latest issue involves third-party apps and cutting off developers.

The problem started on January 13, when popular Twitter clients such as Tweetbot, Twitterific, and Echofon stopped working. However, others did not.

As a result, many users could not log into their accounts or view their timelines, without warning.

Developers thought it was a bug in Twitter's API that lets third-party clients work with Twitter data, but a breakdown of the situation from TechCrunch suggests the move was intentional.

One developer noted in the beginning that most smaller Twitter clients were working without any problems. This lead others to speculate that there was an issue with the API or that Twitter was targeting the larger apps.

Twitter API problems

However, neither Elon Musk nor Twitter publicly commented on the matter. Privately, leaked internal messages from Twitter revealed that the move wasn't a bug but deliberate.

One Twitter project manager reportedly told the product team that the company had "started to work on comms," but didn't provide any timeline for official communication. As a result, developers took to Twitter and Mastodon to voice their frustration.

Developer Matteo Villa said he is considering removing his Twitter client Fenix from the App Store. Another developer, Paul Haddad of Tweebot, used old API keys as a workaround.

That worked for a while and let some users access their accounts. Tweetbot stopped working again after users hit an API limit of 300 posts per 15 minutes for everyone.

Developers behind Mysk created a demo client at one point to test the problem. They found that Twitter's API was working correctly and that Twitter is refusing to authenticate certain apps, but Twitter bots have been using the same API endpoints without a problem.

Just tested a bunch of third-party Twitter apps for both iOS and Android: many seem to work. Also created a demo client to test the API. All functions work. Twitter backend doesn't seem to be broken. Looks like those popular apps were suspended for some reason. https://t.co/WrkW8rqFK3

-- Mysk (@mysk_co)

The next steps

Moving forward, some developers are now focusing their efforts on building clients for Mastodon, a social media platform that gained popularity in the wake of Twitter's troubles.

Haddad told TechCrunch that Tweetbot is working to build its Mastodon client called Ivory at a faster pace. Villa is also working on a client called Wolly and has released it to Apple's TestFlight platform for beta testing.

So far, there doesn't appear to be public responses to the issue from Twitter or Elon Musk. The company is likely hoping to steer more users to its Twitter Blue subscription to increase revenue, but hostility towards developers certainly won't help.

Read on AppleInsider

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 16
    Free speech my a$$. Controlled access via the official app isn’t free speech, it’s authoritarian. 
    lkruppOferFileMakerFellernapoleon_phoneapartwatto_cobratdknox
  • Reply 2 of 16
    thttht Posts: 4,809member
    This was finally the line to get Gruber “off” Twitter. He’s still on it, but Mastodon is his first priority now. He can’t quite give it up. 

    Still amazed at the number of people holding on to Twitter. The messaging is downright blatant. Musk doesn’t want a certain type of user on his platform. It’s like they have a relentless hope that Musk is going to give up, get bored, whatever, and stay on the platform. They view quitting as losing. 

    That’s just plain stupid. Delete Twitter. Use something else. 
    williamlondonFileMakerFellerforegoneconclusionwatto_cobran2itivguydewmemontrosemacsmuthuk_vanalingamtdknox
  • Reply 3 of 16
    KTRKTR Posts: 268member
    Anilu_777 said:
    Free speech my a$$. Controlled access via the official app isn’t free speech, it’s authoritarian. 
    Yup!.  I feel he will end up selling
    Ofernapoleon_phoneapartwatto_cobradewme
  • Reply 4 of 16
    lkrupplkrupp Posts: 10,557member
    Anilu_777 said:
    Free speech my a$$. Controlled access via the official app isn’t free speech, it’s authoritarian. 
    What’s free speech got to do with it? These are third party parasite apps that make money by siphoning users away from Twitter itself as middlemen. No one is stifling free speech in any way.
    williamlondonwatto_cobran2itivguyJWSC
  • Reply 5 of 16
    MarvinMarvin Posts: 14,959moderator
    Anilu_777 said:
    Free speech my a$$. Controlled access via the official app isn’t free speech, it’s authoritarian. 
    I doubt it's about control, it's more likely about ad revenue. Some 3rd party clients are ad-free or the way they show tweets won't boost ad visibility. They even market this:

    https://twitterrific.com/ios/

    "Tweet Your Way
    No ads, promoted tweets or "while you were away" updates cluttering your chronological timeline."

    It's not a great business model to block or lower the ad revenue of the company your app depends on and then complain when they disable access.
    edited January 16 designrwatto_cobraradarthekatmuthuk_vanalingamJWSC
  • Reply 6 of 16
    lkrupp said:
    Anilu_777 said:
    Free speech my a$$. Controlled access via the official app isn’t free speech, it’s authoritarian. 
    What’s free speech got to do with it? These are third party parasite apps that make money by siphoning users away from Twitter itself as middlemen. No one is stifling free speech in any way.
    It was at least a decade ago that Twitter put stringent limits on what third party clients could do, even while the company was flush with cash from investors keen to not miss out on the next tech unicorn. That was a clear signal that Twitter's leadership viewed the service as a commercial operation, and it surprised me that they didn't just cut off API access altogether - but they wanted to have the benefits of better UI for the (potentially small) portion of the user base that cares about such things and presumably felt that the loss of revenue would be minimal and/or worth the tradeoff to stoke user growth.

    My own opinion is that "free speech" is harmed by many of the approaches taken by all of the "social media" services: algorithmic curation of the feed is harmful unless the user can at least inspect (and preferably modify) the algorithm, personal information should be private rather than treated like a public resource (because freedom of speech includes the right to not say something), censoring posts that are not explicitly illegal, forcing users to forego copyright protection for materials uploaded to the service, ...

    As commercial entities they have the right to set their policies and enforce those policies. But they cannot claim to be bastions of free speech when those policies quite clearly trample the rights of individuals using the service.
    napoleon_phoneapartwatto_cobrapscooter63dewme
  • Reply 7 of 16

    Marvin said:
    Anilu_777 said:
    Free speech my a$$. Controlled access via the official app isn’t free speech, it’s authoritarian. 
    I doubt it's about control, it's more likely about ad revenue. Some 3rd party clients are ad-free or the way they show tweets won't boost ad visibility. They even market this:

    https://twitterrific.com/ios/

    "Tweet Your Way
    No ads, promoted tweets or "while you were away" updates cluttering your chronological timeline."

    It's not a great business model to block or lower the ad revenue of the company your app depends on and then complain when they disable access.
    It's also not great stewardship to abruptly change service behaviour without updating the publicly available terms and conditions for an action that will affect tens of thousands of your users. Twitter is not some scrappy startup; it markets itself as a crucial information source with great availability for a few hundred million people - the company has an obligation to treat its customers well or those customers will go elsewhere.

    Musk purportedly took the company private so that changes could be made without being subject to the demands of multiple investors, but he's still being affected by the need to generate enough revenue to offset the operating costs. If advertisers really are leaving the platform in droves then the company needs to develop and implement a sustainable business model - preferably without dumping toxic sludge onto the theme park while patrons are still inside.
    watto_cobran2itivguydewme
  • Reply 8 of 16
    I wonder how people would feel if Elon would turn off features because he feels like it. Adding 15 foot to your breaking distance just because. Or disable turning left.
    watto_cobramontrosemacs
  • Reply 9 of 16
    Elon is an *SS for deciding to remove access for third party apps that have agreements in place. They unfortunately can't fight him. I'm waiting for the Tweetbot devs for the app for Mastodon. 

    Using Fenix at the moment to find out about shootings that shut down a street in my city. 
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 10 of 16
    Anilu_777 said:
    Free speech my a$$. Controlled access via the official app isn’t free speech, it’s authoritarian. 
    Authoritarian? Really?!

    Maybe take a step back (and a deep breath). Count to 10 or something. You might see this a bit differently.

    watto_cobra
  • Reply 11 of 16
    lkrupplkrupp Posts: 10,557member
    ruurd said:
    I wonder how people would feel if Elon would turn off features because he feels like it. Adding 15 foot to your breaking distance just because. Or disable turning left.
    What the fuck are you blathering incoherently about?
  • Reply 12 of 16
    digitoldigitol Posts: 274member
    Is this part of Elon’s transparency, builds trust!?  Mum is the word. More like conditional transparency. Self serving agenda transparency.  Sad. 
  • Reply 13 of 16
    JWSCJWSC Posts: 1,202member
    Anilu_777 said:
    Free speech my a$$. Controlled access via the official app isn’t free speech, it’s authoritarian. 
    The revulsion of Musk on display by a number of posters to this forum is strongly reminiscent of the oddball and whacky hatred many felt toward Steve Jobs.  Both were industry disrupters who made enemies simply because they threatened the entrenched and lucrative interests of formerly established players.  Both also had the habit of speaking their minds, enraging some, while generating new followers and reshaping the world.

    Don’t go full “Microsoft Weenie” on yourself.
    entropysdesignr
  • Reply 14 of 16
    JWSCJWSC Posts: 1,202member
    ruurd said:
    I wonder how people would feel if Elon would turn off features because he feels like it. Adding 15 foot to your breaking distance just because. Or disable turning left.
    Why?  Is that emerging he is likely to do? 🤷🏻
  • Reply 15 of 16
    entropysentropys Posts: 3,952member
     Developers thought it was a bug in Twitter's API that lets third-party clients work with Twitter data, but a breakdown of the situation from TechCrunch suggests the move was intentional.
    One developer noted in the beginning that most smaller Twitter clients were working without any problems. This lead others to speculate that there was an issue with the API or that Twitter was targeting the larger apps.

    Uh huh. reading between the lines this seems to be about data farming outfits. I am surprised Apple fans are upset about it.

    there are still plenty of clients that help you do your tweets.
    edited January 17
  • Reply 16 of 16
    Anilu_777 said:
    Free speech my a$$. Controlled access via the official app isn’t free speech, it’s authoritarian. 
    Musk absolutely knows that "free speech", as most people think of it, does not apply to Twitter.  Twitter isn't obligated to provide a platform for anyone else, and it never actually denied anyone "free speech".  It's a sound bite, a talking point, for him.  That's all.  He doesn't care about it except as it applies to him.

    Meanwhile, Twitter is exercising its free speech by denying a platform to others in a capricious manner.

    But it is highly hypocritical to complain about Twitter de-platforming some people and then turning around and de-platforming a different set of people.

    "Good for me, but not for thee" is probably engraved on a plaque on his desk.
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