Twitter bans third-party clients in developer term update

Twitter updated its developer rules to ban third-party clients on Thursday following the recent blocking of several apps’ access to the platform this week.

Some of the apps, such as Tweetbot, which provides a subscriber-only ad-free Twitter experience, would compete with the platform’s subscription service, Twitter Blue. This week several major third-party Twitter applications lost access to the platform. On January 14, The Information reported that the outage was an internal decision by Twitter.

In a statement, Twitterriffic, another third-party app that provided an ad-free Twitter experience for $9.99 per year, said the app has been discontinued by a Twitter that “we no longer recognize as trustworthy nor want to work with any longer.”

Twitterriffic encouraged its customers who subscribed through iOS to consider not requesting a refund from Apple. “The loss of ongoing, recurring revenue from Twitterrific is already going to hurt our business significantly, and any refunds will come directly out of our pockets,” Twitteriffic stated.

Several third-party clients charge Twitter users for various services that range from scheduling a tweet to accessing the platform without using the Twitter app or website. When Tapbots launched the newest version of Tweetbot in 2021, it introduced a subscription-based payment requirement. This required users to pay either $0.99 per month or $5.99 per year. Tweetbot is but one example of the many third-party applications that are now no longer able to access the platform.

An update to Twitter’s developer rules on Thursday explained why Twitter banned third party-apps from accessing the platform. The update followed the company’s tweet from its Twitter Developer account that said it was enforcing its long-standing API rules, which would result in some apps not working.

According to Twitter’s Developer Agreement, the platform defined the term Twitter Applications as its “consumer facing products, services, applications, websites, web pages, platforms, and other offerings, including without limitation, those offered via and Twitter’s mobile applications.” 

Twitter’s Restrictions on Use of Licensed Materials further elaborates that developers will not “use or access the Licensed Materials to create or attempt to create a substitute or similar service or product to the Twitter Application.” This completely eliminates third-party apps, especially those competing with Twitter Blue.

In November, The Wall Street Journal noted that Twitter hasn’t recorded an annual profit since 2019 and posted a loss in eight years of the past decade. In 2021, Twitter recorded a net loss of $221.4 million.  When Elon Musk purchased the platform in October 2022, he has since commented about the platform’s close call with bankruptcy and moved to save it from that fate.

The new CEO revamped Twitter Blue, the platform’s own subscription service, merging it with verification and later relaunching the service. Although Twitter Blue isn’t an ad-free Twitter experience, it does offer users an ad-free news experience for those reading articles inside the app. Other features include bookmarking folders, themes, and personalization–similar to what several third-party apps would provide users for a fee. Twitter noted that it hopes to offer fewer ads for Twitter Blue subscribers in the future.

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Johnna Crider: Johnna Crider is a Baton Rouge writer covering Tesla, Elon Musk, EVs, and clean energy & supports Tesla's mission. Johnna also interviewed Elon Musk and you can listen here
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