Twitter announced last week that it would be ending free access to its APIs on February 9. Elon Musk has since stated that Twitter will offer a write-only API for “bots delivering good content that is free” after hearing developer input, which comes days before the deadline.
Similar to several of the other policy choices made by Musk’s administration, this choice is obscure. There is no information about what “good content” is or who will determine it.
However, some bots on Twitter will receive a new lifeline if Twitter decides to apply this restriction.
Twitter previously stopped allowing third-party clients access to its API, claiming that they had broken an undefined “long-standing guideline.”
The business then quietly changed the conditions for developers to state that app cannot “use or access the Licensed Materials to construct or attempt to create a substitute or similar service or product to the Twitter Applications.”
Following the announcement, several engineers who mocked bots questioned the choice, claiming that automation gave users free material and so improved the services.
Several bot developers who were dissatisfied with the choice were interviewed by Buzzfeed last week. Both @ restaurant bot and @ weather bot tweet images of various locations along with weather updates.
Since they might need to check account information, it’s unclear at this time if accounts like @BigTechAlert, which tweets about big tech execs and organizations following and unfollowing each other, will be qualified for this free tier.
These automated accounts have been a crucial component of Twitter for years, according to Darius Kazemi, a developer who has created over 80 bots and even held a bot developers convention in 2016.
He claimed that some of these bots, some of which have thousands of followers, make many people happy every day.
The upkeep of these bots, which are supplying the site with free content, was described as being expensive.
According to him, maintaining more than 80 bots on Twitter would cost several thousand dollars annually, which he couldn’t afford.
With initiatives like a pricey new subscription plan and an increase in ad spending, Musk has been attempting to increase revenue for Twitter.
Additionally, he wants to include advertising in replies so that artists can get paid.
The Twitter CEO stated that only Blue Subscribers can make money from this, despite the lack of specifics around how it will operate.
Therefore, it’s likely that content bots won’t make any money even if advertisements are shown on their accounts or in the tweet replies that they receive.
The removal of Twitter’s free API has an impact beyond bot developers. Many student programmers and experts on hate speech or disinformation may not have the funds to pay a monthly fee.
Academics have special access to Twitter’s v2 API, but under the new API restrictions, that might not be the case.
Developers have also noted that many spam-sending bots do not actually use the legitimate API. Therefore, the company’s plan to shut down free API in order to eliminate spam might not be successful.