Last week, Twitter said it will stop providing free access to its APIs starting February 9. Now days before the deadline, Elon Musk said that following developer feedback, Twitter will provide a write-only API for “bots that deliver good content that’s free.”
This decision is as opaque as some other policy decisions led by Musk. There is no information about what constitutes “good content” and who will decide that. However, if Twitter implements this rule, some bots will get a new lifeline on the social network.
Previously, Twitter blocked API access for third-party customers, saying they broke a “long-standing rule” without any specification. Subsequently, the company tacitly updated its developer terms to indicate that the app “cannot use or access the licensed materials to create or attempt to create or attempt a replacement or similar service or product for the Twitter applications.” to make”.
After the announcement, there were many developers fooling bots criticized the decision saying their automation provided people with free content and in turn improved services. Last week, Buzzfeed interviewed different bot developers who were not satisfied with the decision. These include @_restaurant_bot who tweets random photos of restaurants and @_weather_bot_who tweets images from different places with weather updates.
At the moment it is not clear whether accounts like this @BigTechAlertthose tweets about big tech execs and organizations following and unfollowing each other qualify for this free tier as they may need to scan account details.
Darius Kazemi, a developer who created over 80 bots and even hosted a bot developer summit in 2016, londonbusinessblog.com told londonbusinessblog.com over the phone that these automated accounts have been an integral part of Twitter for years. He said that some of these bots with thousands of followers bring joy to many people every day.
He said it would be expensive to maintain these bots that provide free content to the platform
“I have more than 80 bots on Twitter so it would cost me several thousand dollars to keep up with them each year and I can’t afford that kind of money,” he said.
Musk has tried to generate more revenue for Twitter with, among other things, a new expensive subscription and more advertising money. He also plans to run ads in comments to share revenue with creators. While details on how this will work are scarce, Twitter’s CEO only said so Blue subscribers can earn this money. So it is likely that content bots will not make any money even if ads appear on their accounts or in replies below their tweets.
The termination of Twitter’s free API doesn’t just affect bot developers. There are multitudes of student developers and researchers of hate speech or disinformation who may not have the budget to pay a monthly fee. Twitter’s v2 API had special access for academics, but that may not be the case under the new API rules.
Developers have too orphan out that many spam-distributing bots do not use the official API. So the company’s intention to shut down the free API to get rid of spam may not work well.