Twitter will stop offering free access to its API starting February 9th, a move that — unsurprisingly — has frustrated developers.
The Twitter Dev account announced that change on February 2nd at 1:05am ET in a tweet, writing the platform would offer a “paid basic tier” instead. The account went on to tweet that its data is “among the world’s most powerful data sets.”
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 Twitter Application Programming Interface (API) enables third parties to access and analyze public Twitter data. The API is used for a variety of things, such as programmable bots, or separate apps that connect to the platform, like Thread Reader, which turns Twitter threads into easier-to-read text blocks.
The Verge notes that Twitter currently offers free, but limited, API access with paid tiers for scaling up access. Although the company doesn’t publicly share the price of its API tiers, The Verge cited a Twitter Community post noting the costs, which start at $99 USD (about $131.69 CAD) per month. Presumably, the new basic paid tier would fall below that price.
Next week, there won't be a free Twitter API anymore. As a result, I will stop any work on non-commercial projects that use the API and will have to re-evaluate which commercial projects are still feasible.
This change will destroy research, activism and commercial projects. https://t.co/wI9a4m7EFl
— Luca Hammer (@luca) February 2, 2023
Unfortunately, the change will likely impact various small developers that used the free API access to create fun or useful tools and bots that weren’t intended to turn a profit. When the changes come into effect, most of those tools will either shut down or start charging some kind of fee to recoup the costs of accessing Twitter’s API. It’ll also impact other groups, like students and scientists who use the platform to gather information for research or study online behaviours.
Moreover, the changes come after Twitter abruptly banned developers from making third-party Twitter apps, leading to the shutdown of popular apps like Twitterific and Tweetbot.
All of these recent changes have happened rapidly, with little or no warning for developers. The company is seemingly much less friendly towards those who built tools and apps that helped make Twitter the platform that it is today, especially as the company appears to just be trying to make a quick buck to help Musk pay off his debt.