Tweetbot users briefly saw the light at the end of the day yesterday, but it wasn’t the good news some were hoping for. Blocking third-party clients for Twitter is not a technical error, but a choice, as it becomes clearer as time goes by. And no, Elon Musk did not change his mind in a few minutes, the change made yesterday on the side of Tweetbot is the fact of its creators who, in the absence of official communication, found a way to confirm the intentionality of the cut .
Twitter: Sudden blocking of third-party apps “on purpose” 🆕
Access to Twitter through the API provided to developers because almost the start of the service is through a unique key. Without it, the data remains inaccessible, this is an elementary security for all APIs and for all services that do not want to lose all control over their platform. It’s also a way for Twitter to restrict access and blocking third-party customers is done by disabling API access for targeted customers’ keys, including Tweetbot’s .
Paul Haddad, one of the co-founders of Tapbots and the main developer of Tweetbot, confirmed at the end of the day that he replaced his app’s master key with an older one that he kept in a corner. This change allows the Twitter client to work for some time and then only partially. We can log in again and read the messages, but the publication is limited 300 messages per three-hour period, which is far from enough for an app that is heavily used.
However, the remaining Twitter employees reacted quickly by blocking this old key, once again rendering Tweetbot completely inactive. Paul Haddad explains The Verge that he wanted to check if the deactivation of their access was not an accident, which was fully confirmed by the rapid blocking of this new key. It should be noted that since the first cut more than three days ago, Twitter has not officially said a word. Even Elon Musk, but usually very talkative, seems to completely ignore the question.
Not all keys that allow access to the Twitter API are disabled, so less-used clients may still work. This is still the case today with Aviary, a Twitter client released in 2020 and present on all Apple platforms. However, the message seems clear now: Twitter no longer likes third-party apps and favors its official app and website. This choice is really logical, when we know that Twitter needs a lot of financial income to survive and that third-party clients did not show its ads.
More than shutting down the API itself, it’s the approach that’s disgusting, especially when one thinks about the role of Twitter clients in setting up the social network as it was. The creator of Twitterrific, to which we still owe the concept of the blue bird and the name “tweet”, was bitter in his blog and announced that the development of what remains one of the first third-party clients for Twitter is delayed. Beyond that, he doesn’t intend to make Tapbots, which work with a Mastodon client close to Tweetbot, but he intends to explore the possibilities offered by the open ActivityPub protocol on which Mastodon and all other Fediverse apps are based .
In the meantime, the official Twitter app remains your only option if you plan to continue using the social network. And trust my experience, after almost twelve years with Tweetbot, going back to the official app is difficult. You can activate the chronological feed so you don’t have to rely (too much) on an algorithm that’s not much smarter than Facebook, but you’ll never be able to read all the messages published by all the accounts you follow like you turned the client into a third.
There is no reading status sync, the app has a tendency like Instagram to forget your reading position, and the timeline is not always honored. Without counting it is necessary to do in regular pubs, publicity in the form of tweets like others obviously. If you miss Tweetbot, the best option is probably Ivory anyway, but it also includes deleting Twitter and checking Mastodon.
Mastodon: our great guide to discover this Twitter alternative