Sunday, September 24, 2023

Twitter officially bans third-party customers with new rules for developers

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Twitter updated its developer rules to bar third-party customers, almost a week after it unceremoniously blocked the apps’ access to its platform and offered almost no explanation of what was going on (through engaged). The new rules indicate that you cannot use Twitter’s API or content to “make or attempt to make a replacement or similar service or product for the Twitter Applications”.

The rules, updated Thursday, make clear what that means: “Twitter Applications” refers to the Company’s “consumer-oriented products, services, applications, websites, web pages, platforms and other offerings, including but not limited to those offered through and Twitter’s mobile applications.” The clause prohibiting alternative services has been added to the rules with the most recent update, according to the Wayback Machine.

The rule change comes after Twitter quietly broke several popular third-party Twitter clients such as Tweetbot and Twitterific starting Jan. 12. At the time, the developers behind the apps (many of which have historically shaped the entire Twitter user experience) said they had not received any communication from the company about what happened. Then, on January 17, the the company’s developer account tweeted that it “enforced its time-honored API rules”, which “could cause some apps to not work”.

“We have respected their API rules as published for the past 16 years,” Ged Maheux, co-founder of Twitterific developer The Iconfactory, wrote in a blog post about the app not working. “We have no knowledge that these rules have changed recently or what those changes might be.”

Craig Hockenberry, Director at Iconfactory, put it butter on his personal blog: “There was no prior notice to the creators, customers just got a weird error message and no one explains what is going on. We have not had a chance to thank customers who have been with us for more than ten years. Instead, it’s just another scene in their ongoing shit show.

There has apparently been no official announcement of the rule change, either from Twitter Dev or Elon Musk. Twitter does not have a communications department to contact.

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