Tuesday, January 17, 2023

Twitter Claims Apps Blocked for Violating API Rules

Adam Demasi:

Here’s a spreadsheet I saw shared around that confirms this targeted a specific set of popular clients[…]

Erin Woo:

The mysterious outage of Tweetbot and other third-party Twitter clients that began Thursday night was an intentional suspension, according to internal messages viewed by The Information. The suspension cut off the ability of people to use Twitter on outside apps, forcing them to go to Twitter’s own app.

The reason for the suspension couldn’t be learned.

Abner Li:

Other internal (Slack) communications seen by the publication reveal that Twitter is working on “approved talking points” for partners, but it’s not clear when they would be ready.


Since then, Twitter, including the usually vocal Elon Musk, has not announced the removal of third-party apps.


The Information notes that “most of Twitter’s employees, including most people working on Twitter’s developer platforms” have been laid off.

John Gruber:

Twitter can of course do what it wants, and Musk owns Twitter so he can do what he wants. But pulling the plug on these clients and ghosting everyone on communications about it is so absurdly disrespectful. Zero respect for the users for those apps, zero respect for the developers behind them — many of whom had been building on the Twitter platform for 10-15 years. Just a clown show.

Paul Haddad:

Even without these leaks if you add up the lack of communication, only impacting the top 25-50 Twitter API clients and clients showing up as suspended in the dev. dashboard. The only conclusion at this point is that it was intentional and not any kind of bug.

For the record, still no official or even unofficial communication from anyone within Twitter.


And I really want an official public statement. We have a large number of sub. renewals for year 3 of Tweetbot coming up in a couple of weeks. If we’re permanently cut off I need to know so we can remove the app from sale and prevent those.

Craig Hockenberry (Hacker News):

Twitterrific is something that we’ve all poured our love into for the past 16 years. I’m not usually one to toot my own horn, but we literally crafted the early experience on the service. We often hear that folks joined up because of our app. Our work was definitive and groundbreaking.


Like my mom, the API has been declining for awhile. Endpoints were removed, new features were unavailable to third parties, and rate limiting restricted what we could do.


What bothers me about Twitterrific’s final day is that it was not dignified. There was no advance notice for its creators, customers just got a weird error, and no one is explaining what’s going on.

Ged Maheux:

I absolutely cannot wait to see the twisted justifications Musk and Twitter spit out for suspending SOME but not all 3rd party clients. John’s right, this whole affair is utterly disgraceful from top to bottom. I’m looking forward to putting it all behind us once and for all at this point.

Emma Roth (Hacker News):

Tweetbot is down again. The Twitter client briefly became available in the midst of an outage that locked users out of major third-party Twitter clients.

Paul Haddad:

And now dead again, along with some old unused API keys, which proves that this was intentional and we and others were specifically targeted.

Ross Woodruff:

Nope it’s not shutdown, they’ve specifically just revoked the API keys for the most popular apps.

Federico Viticci:

Let’s pour one out for third-party Twitter clients:

Apps that shaped UI conventions, pioneered a market, and in many ways reinvented how we communicate online[…] These apps didn’t deserve to end up like this.

John Voorhees:

Even after Twitter had its own suite of apps, the third-party app market flourished. Tweetbot by Tapbots came along in 2011 and quickly became a favorite of many users, distinguishing itself with its steady stream of new power-user features and thoughtful design. But it wasn’t long before Twitter’s relationships with third-party developers began to sour. It started with a vague set of rules introduced in 2012 that preferred CRM and analytics apps over clients like Twitterrific and Tweetbot. The ups and downs over the years that followed are too numerous to count, but the consequence was that for many years few new Twitter clients were developed.

However, relations began to thaw with the announcement of version 2.0 of the Twitter API, which went into effect in 2021. Not only did the API update make new features available, but Twitter promised to loosen restrictions on third-party developers. That led to renewed interest in third-party client development, resulting in innovative new features in apps like Spring, which was a runner-up in the Best App Update category of the 2022 MacStories Selects awards.

As it turns out, Twitter’s developer detente was short-lived.

Ken Kocienda:

I honestly feel sorry for the developers who invested their time and effort into making 3rd-party twitter clients. Thanks for all your work over the years.

Mark Jardine:

Before we were on the app store, we used Twitter to share the above YouTube video of our first app. The reception was amazing. My video showed up on a bunch of Mac/iOS blogs. It was so exciting. We ended up creating a Tapbots account on Twitter to post news about our apps and engage with customers.

The original Tweetbot logo was from a bird I drew specifically for our website to point to our twitter account. Since the character was already made, I wanted to use it for Tweetbot.

Jason Snell:

As Ben Thompson wrote on Monday, allowing third-party clients that don’t show ads is something that doesn’t make business sense, so it’s not surprising that Twitter’s new management decided to pull the plug. (The company could’ve decided to build on a concept involving third-party clients and an API, but it would require a level of technical commitment it has never really been able to spare—and there are few if any examples of peer social-media companies offering unfettered APIs to create alternate interfaces to their services.)


Numerous third-party client apps are still functional… just not the biggest names on the biggest platforms. A classless operation, an unnecessary PR own-goal, and a botched technical roll-out.

Twitter Dev:

Twitter is enforcing its long-standing API rules. That may result in some apps not working.

Filipe Espósito:

The statement doesn’t say what rules are being changed, and why the company didn’t inform Twitter’s third-party client developers in advance about this change.

Juli Clover:

There has been no word on which API rules the blocked Twitter clients have violated[…]


Tweetbot has been around for over 10 years, we’ve always complied with the Twitter API rules.

If there’s some existing rule that we need to comply with, we’d be happy to do so, if possible. But we do need to know what it is…

@TwitterDev, you know how to reach us.

Shortly after this all started last week, I received an e-mail from Twitter about its API:

Are you ready to kickstart your build using the Twitter API?

Now is the perfect time to check back in with your developer account to start a project, monitor your usage, find technical support, and see what’s new.

Ged Maheux:

We have been respectful of their API rules, as published, for the past 16 years. We have no knowledge that these rules have changed recently or what those changes might be.

Manton Reece:

But one problem with pinning everything on Elon is that it leaves open the possibility that maybe Twitter would be fine if the company was led by a different CEO who continued the Twitter API status quo. I don’t think so. Twitter wasn’t going to last forever because massive ad-based silos will always be at odds with the open web. Twitter’s recent implosion greatly accelerated what would need to happen regardless.


Remember back in 2012 they announced that apps could not have more than 100k users, even if popular apps at the time were exempted. There were other restrictions too, largely ignored. Third-party Twitter apps were living on borrowed time, strung along with false hope every few years as Twitter’s leadership drifted back and forth on whether to encourage developers or cut them off.

Brent Simmons:

The internet’s town square should never have been one specific website with its own specific rules and incentives. It should have been, and should be, the web itself.


With the fall of the Twitter consensus I am energized. I remember what it was like in the 2000s; I remember the liveliness and sparkle of those days on the web.

See also: Techmeme, Zoe Schiffer et al., Dithering.


Update (2023-01-18): John Gruber:

Give them a point for brevity, I suppose, but there’s literally no one on the planet who believes a word of this. Third-party clients weren’t violating any existing rules, and there’s no “may” about the fact that they stopped working because Twitter revoked their authorization credentials.

Ged Maheux:

I really do hate to pile on (no I don’t) but I spoke with a reporter at Reuters today about this whole situation and both she and I agreed that nothing about any of this episode has made any sense what-so-ever. It’s just baffling what’s going on and how they’ve handled it.

Sean Heber:

My charitable guess is that Twitter had an internal upper limit as to the number of user tokens they’d freely allow to be associated with a given app key before triggering a manual “make sure these are still legit apps” process. But then all those people who did the verifying got fired. And then someone looking for a promotion noticed and mentioned it to the boss. And then management said[…]

Chris Clark:

While we’re posting Twitterrific eulogies…

Update (2023-01-19): Mike Rockwell:

I feel like Elon might be completely unaware of the third-party app thing.

Given his willingness to address controversies, it seems odd that this is the one he would not address at all. He hasn’t even jokingly referenced it, that I’m aware of.

It seems more plausible to me that Elon wanted more cost-savings and some middle manager made the decision to pull the plug on the API for devs that were using it heavily but generating no or little revenue to the company.


As of this afternoon, Twitterrific for Mac has been suspended from Twitter without explanation.

6 Comments RSS · Twitter · Mastodon

"Like my mom, the API has been declining for awhile."

😂 Well, that's one way of putting it.

@alec: if you read that in the context of the article, it doesn't come off as funny, at all. Craig mentions near the beginning that his mother recently died.

In a just world, Apple and Google would pull Twitter off of their stores for rug pulling third party devs.

@Gord L. - Thanks for the context! Wasn't my intention to make light of a serious situation.

Suggesting that the solution to one landlord treating a share-cropper badly, is for another landlord to treat another share-cropper badly is not justice.

In a just world there would be no "share-croppers", and neither Twitter nor Apple & Google would be throwing anyone off "their" platforms.

Such a shame. I had used Twitterrific for over a decade and even backed Project Phoenix.

I don't understand how people use the web interface. Anytime I go there I find it infuriating. Its terrible.

And so my Twitter life comes to an end. No Twitterrific, no Twitter. Simple as that.

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