Twitter quietly changed its developer rules to ban third-party clientsshortly after blocking the access of these applications to its platform, as reported by Engadget and developer agreement of the company. Third-party apps have been an integral part of Twitter’s success almost since its inception. Twitter’s willingness to work with third-party developers, however, appears to be coming to an end.
This decision follows the recent unexpected shutdown of Twitter clients on various platforms such as Android, iOS, etc. It just turned out that the company had deliberately cut off third-party Twitter clients.
Twitter later confirmed this, saying that “long-standing API rules are enforcedwithout specifying which rules were violated. Developers of third-party Twitter clients were simply told that their apps would “suspended“.
Twitter is enforcing its long-standing API rules. That may result in some apps not working.
—Twitter Dev (@TwitterDev) January 17, 2023
Twitter API and Twitter content
Twitter’s new developer agreement for use of the Twitter API, effective immediately, development of third-party clients for the platform is now prohibited. The new rules state that it is not allowed to use Twitter’s API or content to “create or attempt to create a service or product that replaces or is similar to the Twitter applications“.
Twitter’s updated Developer Agreement grants a license that allows use of their services on a non-exclusive, royalty-free, non-transferable, non-sublicensable, and renewable basis only as set forth in the agreement.
- Use the Twitter API to integrate Twitter Content into your Services or review such Content, as expressly approved by Twitter;
- Copy a reasonable amount of Twitter Content and display it to End Users on and through your Services as permitted by this Agreement;
- Modify Twitter Content only to format it for display on your Services; and
- Use and display the Twitter Marks, only to attribute offers from Twitter as the source of the Twitter Content, as stated herein.
The change in Twitter policies and the ban on third-party customers is likely due to financial reasons. Twitter, under Musk’s leadership, has struggled financially, and third-party clients bring in less for the company than its own app. Developers pay to access the API, but Twitter doesn’t serve ads through it, limiting its ability to monetize users of alternative apps.
Also, users of third-party clients may be less interested in Twitter’s subscription service, “Twitter Blue”, which mainly adds functionality to the official Twitter app.
Retired Apps — Twitterrific, Tweetbot, and Fenix
According to the report, Twitter’s third-party clients have been part of Twitter for a long time. For example, Twitterrific, which was one of the apps hit hard by last week’s API shutdown, was created before Twitter had its own iOS app. Twitterrific is credited with coining the word “tweet” and introducing features commonly associated with the Twitter application today. This change to the Developers Agreement is the only significant change to the 5,000-word agreement, as noted.
Twitter has relaxed its policy on third-party clients as apps like Tweetbot and Fenix have grown in popularity due to the lack of ads and other unwanted features. This change is part of Twitter’s efforts to improve its relationship with developers. Twitter’s strategy to improve relations with third-party app developers ended without Twitter reaching out to affected developers.
App developers like Fenix and Twitterrific were left without any explanation and had their apps removed. Developers have expressed frustration and disappointment at Twitter’s lack of communication.
Twitterrific has asked its Twitterrific for iOS subscribers to consider not requesting a refund from Apple. Announcing the app’s discontinuation on its blog, the company said:
The loss of ongoing and recurring revenue from Twitterrific would hurt our business significantly, and any refunds would come directly out of our pockets — not Twitter’s or Apple’s. In other words, thousands of refunds would be devastating for a small business like ours.
Cutting out third-party developers is a sudden and significant reversal of its original policy. It remains to be seen whether the new narrow development strategy can yield enough revenue to balance Twitter’s large account, which is turning red.