Last week, Twitter said it would stop free access to its APIs starting February 9. Now, days ahead of schedule, Elon Musk has said that after receiving developer feedback , Twitter will provide a write-only API for “bots that provide good and free content”.
In the past, Twitter has closed API access to third-party customers who say it violated “old rules” without any specifications. The company then quietly updated its development terms to state that the app may not “use or access Licensed Materials to create or attempt to create an alternative service or product.” or similar for the Twitter apps.”
Following the announcement, many developers mocking the bot criticized the decision, saying that their automation provides free content to users and improves service. Last week, Buzzfeed interviewed several bot developers who weren’t happy with the decision. These include @restaurant_bot tweeting random photos of restaurants and @_weather_bot tweeting pictures of different locations along with weather updates. Musk is trying to generate more revenue for Twitter with moves like expensive new subscriptions and increased advertising dollars.
It also plans to run responsive ads to share revenue with creators. While details on how it works are few, Twitter’s CEO said only blue followers can earn this amount. Therefore, it is likely that content bots are not monetizing even if ads are displayed on their accounts or in replies under their tweets. Turning off Twitter’s free API doesn’t just affect bot developers. Many student developers, hate speech researchers, or disinformation researchers may not have the budget to pay the monthly fee. Twitter API version 2 has special access for academics, but that may not be the case with the new API rules. The developers also point out that many spam bots do not use the official API. Therefore, the company’s intention to disable the free API to eliminate spam may not be successful.