Twitter’s new policy will kill beloved content bots

By 02/02/2023
Twitter’s new policy will kill beloved content bots

Elon Musk has been yapping about his supposed support for content creators since he took over Twitter in October.

And yet, under his leadership, the platform has abruptly decided to start charging for access to its API—a move that could kill thousands upon thousands of creator-made bots which for years have tweeted everything from memes and other tidbits of internet ephemera to art, quotes, user-submitted photos, trivia, and much, much more.

“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 announced from its @TwitterDev handle.


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For those not familiar, API stands for “Application Programming Interface,” and is the backend part of a platform that allows third-party developers access to specific information and functions from that platform.

In the case of content-sharing bots—many of which are set to tweet at regular intervals, e.g. once per hour or once per day—people who make them and/or run them use third-party management software to connect the bots to Twitter and ensure they stick to their schedule.

Twitter wants to monetize that connection.

“Over the years, hundreds of millions of people have sent over a trillion Tweets, with billions more every week,” it added in its statement. “Twitter data are among the world’s most powerful data sets. We’re committed to enabling fast & comprehensive access so you can continue to build with us.”

It didn’t say what the “paid basic tier” will cost, just said that it’ll “be back with more details on what you can expect next week.”

Since next week is, you know, also when free API access is going to be shut down, botmakers won’t be getting a lot of warning about what they’ll have to budget to keep their creations online.

Some people have pointed out that this policy change (which, by the way, was made without input from a user poll, something Musk said wouldn’t happen anymore) will not only affect content-posting bots, it’ll also impact bots that automatically tweet vital alerts like emergency weather warnings.

Since those types of bots are often operated by government agencies that can float the new cost to keep them running, they’ll likely remain operational.

But the same can’t be said for all the bots made by independent creators who won’t be able (or willing) to pay whatever Twitter demands to keep their passion projects alive.

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