Thursday, August 16, 2018

Twitter Company Email Addresses Why It’s #BreakingMyTwitter

Sarah Perez (9to5Mac, MacRumors):

In a company email it shared today, Twitter cited “technical and business constraints” that it can no longer ignore as being the reason behind the APIs’ shutdown.

It said the clients relied on “legacy technology” that was still in a “beta state” after more than 9 years, and had to be killed “out of operational necessity.”

This reads like passing the buck. Big time.

Rob Johnson (tweet):

Our goal is to deliver the best Twitter for you. This year, we’re moving faster towards this goal by focusing on improving Twitter for iOS, Android, and As part of this, we’ve chosen to stop supporting some other experiences. We’ve removed support for Twitter for Apple Watch and Twitter for Mac, we’ve replaced our previous Twitter for Windows app with our Progressive Web App, and today we’re removing support for some outdated developer tools.

We feel the best Twitter experience we can provide today is through our owned and operated Twitter for iOS and Android apps, as well as desktop and mobile We’ve long believed this — we’ve focused on delivering the best experience for our apps and sites for years. Recent feature and settings improvements (many of which are only possible in a Twitter-owned app) include:

John Voorhees (tweet):

I will particularly miss the Stats and Activity view of Tweetbot, which has long been one of my favorites. Twitterrific’s Today view, which was similar to Tweetbot’s Activity view, was removed from sale as a premium feature in July, will stop working when the API changes take effect, and will be retired in the future.

Whichever app you use, the biggest changes are to timeline streaming and push notifications. Twitterrific used to allow you to live-stream your timeline over WiFi, which is no longer possible. Instead, your timeline will refresh every two minutes or so over WiFi or a mobile data connection when the app is running. Tweetbot doesn’t support streaming anymore either, but it too will periodically refresh your timeline when the app is open.

Notifications are more limited as well. Tweetbot and Twitterrific used to allow users to turn on notifications for mentions, direct messages, retweets, quote tweets, likes, and follows, but don’t anymore.

Nick Heer:

I wanted to be fair, so I gave the official client another shot this week. It still isn’t my jam. It isn’t the ads that are a problem — they’re distracting, of course, but they’re a known kind of distraction. It’s something about the app that makes Twitter, as a concept, feel heavy and burdensome. It’s not solely the prompts to follow other accounts, or the strange reversal of the reverse-chronological timeline when a self-replying thread appears, or the real-time updates to retweet and like numbers — it’s a combination of all of those things, and many more. When I use the first-party client, I feel like I’m being played around with for business reasons.

Tweetbot makes Twitter feel light and friendly to me.

Steve Streza:

Twitter was handed a huge developer community itching to build incredible products that only serve its goals. Instead it has been kicking those developers repeatedly and blaming them for being in the way of the boot.

Their blog post on the matter brags about how major features were only available in Twitter’s official apps (which no longer exist on a lot of platforms), ignoring the fact that Twitter and only Twitter ever decided not to build APIs for them, which would immediately be adopted.

And while it’s fine that Twitter wants to replace user streams and site streams with something better, which would get adopted by devs, they’re now drastically limiting it via a paywall that explicitly outprices these apps. @robjohnson doesn’t tell you any of that.

Twitter wants 3rd party clients to die, and all of this posturing about how they “love and respect the time and passion” are simply empty words compared to their actions. What a waste. But most importantly, what a dishonest set of lies from Twitter product.

John Moltz:

We’ve heard your complaints and we think we have a sweet solution. It’s called looking at ads and boosted content from famous people in a non-chronological feed. We think you’re gonna like it.

Dan Moren:

I mean, don’t be coy, @twitter: just acknowledge that you want to strongarm me into using your apps instead of the third party ones that I prefer.

Ed Casey:

“Third party apps let you use twitter without seeing our ads and we like money.”

Cabel Sasser:

Serious question. This is obviously why Twitter doesn’t want third party clients… and it’s fair! But why don’t they just say it? “We need to make money” is so easy but they dance around it. Surely it wouldn’t upset investors, and (some) customers would (maybe) sympathize, right?

Will Cosgrove:

I don’t understand twitter. Just make the API terms force them to show the ads. Done.

I don’t think it’s about ad money.

Paul Haddad:

The sad thing is they did build a service to replace most of this, they just priced access to it so high that it might as well not exist.

For those wondering this is the pricing, each subscription is an account. So a minimum of > $11/account/month.

Josh Centers:

My guess is that Twitter isn’t getting rid of third-party clients because of ads. That’d be easy to fix. I bet they’re planning some truly horrible, rancid shit that everyone will hate. The “reimagined experience.”

Renaud Lienhart:

Unpopular opinion, but: I don’t really care about Twitter’s API removals. My Twitter experience feels mostly the same; I don’t really need streaming and push notifications for it to be useful. As a matter of fact, these non-streaming endpoints feel faster so far.

Previously: Twitterrific Braces for API Shutdown, New Twitter APIs and Pricing, Twitter Shutting Down APIs.

Update (2018-08-17): Guy English:

They think they’re fooling nobody, and being very honest and open. But they are fooling themselves. I think their internal jargon and logic is leaking out. The framework they use internally to run and understand the company is showing and it is at odds with reality.

John Gruber:

Tweetbot makes sense to me — in large part simply because it presents tweets in chronological order. Twitter’s iOS app does none of these things for me. I truly find it confusing. And Twitter no longer even fucking has a first-party native app for the Mac. I don’t want to use a website for Twitter. I want an app.


I already happily pay for Tweetbot; I’d also happily pay Twitter for the privilege of using it. I am convinced there are ways Twitter could make money from people using third-party clients. I am equally convinced that there’s no way Twitter can make one interface that pleases all of its users.

Ricky Mondello:

“hire” [regarding “We’re committed to understanding why people hire 3rd party clients over our own apps”]

Jason Snell:

Yeah, it’s a real mystery about why people want to use third-party Twitter apps. I hope someone finally gets to the bottom of this.

Matt 26:01:

I’d love to know who they’ve asked so far because I don’t recall an update to the official app that has improved things. Even in it’s latest state, blindfolded, gagged and bound, Tweetbot is still better than the official app!

Nick Heer:

Then, the landowner decided to buy one of the nicest apartment buildings on the site. And, slowly, residents of that apartment started to notice little changes being made. It began to receive new amenities, some of which were unavailable to anyone else on the land.

Cam Hunt:

My guess is ads are easy for 3rd party clients to display. All the user tracking, though? Not something they want to publicly disclose or have 3rd party clients implement

Tim Schmitz:

Totally agree. The most obvious reason that @Twitter wants everyone to use their official app is so they can do all sorts of creepy tracking with it. (Hint: Think Facebook.)

Josh Centers:

Here’s an example of why people are so mad at Twitter. For years people asked for a paid tier. Like $10 a month and you get full API access and verification or whatever. Twitter said no, we don’t want to charge for the service. But they do!


People get angry when you lie to them constantly and act like they’re stupid. It’s just that simple.


I’ll say this: the official iOS app is way better than it used to be, and is perfectly serviceable on its own merits. But like @gruber said: one size doesn’t fit all.


And I don’t understand people who take Twitter’s side here. For one thing, they haven’t actually presented a side.

Eric Schwarz:

So, I tried the official Twitter client again since I only have fallen back to it for search here and there…

After a few minutes of use, no wonder people are so meanspirited on here. It’s frustratingly annoying, clunky, and you can’t find your place ever.

Ken Ferry:

I kinda take them at their word, actually. A public API will absolutely slow down your development, keep you from breaking assumptions to move things forward, etc. It may be worth it, goodness knows I love a good API, but it’s a major thing to do

Steven Sinofsky:

Reason 1️⃣. The obvious answer is that it is pretty impossible to innovate in an end-user experience while constantly trying to maintain an API usable by others. This is sooo counter-intuitive to technology people.


Reason 2️⃣. Twitter has experience problems to solve and those will only get solved by FE/BE changing together. Pick you favorite twitter challenge (toxicity, spam, bots, edit button, etc.)…

While any one can easily be imagined as an API/protocol that isn’t the point.

See also: MacRumors.

Update (2018-08-21): Matt Henderson:

1. Over the years, I’ve spent orders of magnitude more time in Twitter, than Facebook. The reason is the simple experience of being able to read what people I follow have to say, when they say it.

2. The best experience has always been 3rd party clients; in particular for me, @tweetbot. Over time, the native Twitter interface has tended towards that of Facebook.

3. In the native experience, the algorithmic feed killed the very essence of what Twitter is. And it doesn’t end there. I’m interrupted with proposals for people to follow, trending shit, tweets from people I don’t even follow…

4. As a Mac user, I have to use a web browser to experience native Twitter, since they killed their Mac app.

So the very last thing I’d want to do nowadays, is visit the native Twitter experience.


7. Instead of just saying Twitter depends on ad revenue, and just like Facebook, needs all its users in the native environment, so algorithms and AI can attempt to maximize my engagement and learn as much as possible about me…


8. The people at Twitter claim this is all in my best interest, in order to provide me with the “best experience possible”. That dishonesty is what drives me to hope that one day a competitor can displace them.

See also: Dave Mark.


You know what I just realized? This annoying behavior of breaking up a thread by quote tweeting, which makes it impossible to follow, was likely started by people using 3rd party clients. Because those clients don’t show context.

Real twitter doesn’t just show a new tweet from a thread in your timeline, it shows you the thread.

I was sympathetic, but breaking up threads by quote tweeting is the worst part of twitter. So I’m declaring opposition to third party clients because they’re #BreakingMyTwitter

Matt Drance:

A lot of the tension Steven describes in this thread is real. The problem is that very, very few sticky evolutions of the platform actually came from the start out of Twitter HQ. It’s like blowing the entrance to the only known gold mine in town just because it’s not yours.

Josh Centers:

Twitter has spent years fighting the third-party clients the company once encouraged.

Brent Simmons:

There is no scenario where the Twitter we loved in 2008 comes back.

Even if it were sold to some entity with energy, resources, smarts, and good intentions, it’s too late. It has celebrities with millions of followers. It has the president. It has millions of accounts using it for unlovable purposes.

It’s never coming back, and using your emotional energy hoping it comes back is a waste.

Matt Drance:

Twitter started for me as a chat room, then it became a tech/work bulletin board, then it became my primary news source and personal/political boundary stretcher. The first two are basically gone, the last two are getting harder to filter but I’m still dealing for now.

Update (2018-08-22): Wojtek Pietrusiewicz:

Third party clients didn’t invent the quote tweet. Twitter did.

Sarah Perez:

Twitter tried to downplay the impact deactivating its legacy APIs would have on its community and the third-party Twitter clients preferred by many power users by saying that “less than 1%” of Twitter developers were using these old APIs. Twitter is correct in its characterization of the size of this developer base, but it’s overlooking millions of third-party app users in the process. According to data from Sensor Tower, six million App Store and Google Play users installed the top five third-party Twitter clients between January 2014 and July 2018.

Jonathan Mann (via John Gruber):

So, @danielpunkass asked for a song about Twitter’s FU to 3rd party folks.

2 Comments RSS · Twitter

Twitter's board has clearly decided they want to be Facebook. The problem is there's already Facebook and the things that make Twitter useful are getting lost in the move to be an other Facebook.

[…] Twitter has spent years fighting the third-party clients the company once encouraged. Despite protests from developers and users (see “Twitter App Developers Band Together to Fight API Changes,” 21 May 2018), Twitter has gone ahead with its latest restrictions on third-party clients. Clients can no longer live-stream tweets or send push notifications. If you want those features, you now have to turn to Twitter’s official apps. But while it’s cutting off outside developers, Twitter has a bad record of maintaining its own clients, having killed off its own Mac app months ago (see “Three Alternatives to Twitter’s Now-Defunct Mac App,” 2 March 2018). Twitter’s Rob Johnson shared an internal email on Twitter, along with other comments intended to placate users, but based on Michael Tsai’s sampling of responses, Johnson’s explanations fell flat. […]

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