Twitter has silently updated its developer terms to ban all third-party clients on the platform. The firm’s 5,000-word developer agreement was reportedly updated with a stipulation prohibiting “use or access the Licensed Materials to create or attempt to create a substitute or similar service or product to the Twitter Applications.” Even before the terms were updated, third-party apps like Tweetbot and Twitterific on Android and iOS were shut down by the company last week. At the time, the company’s API status page did not reflect any change, and Twitter did not provide an explanation until earlier this week when it claimed it was “enforcing long-standing API rules.”
The updated developer terms were first spotted by Engadget. The terms, which were updated on Thursday, make it clear in the “restrictions” section that developers are no longer permitted to use Twitter’s API or content to “create or attempt to create a substitute or similar service or product to the Twitter Applications.” That is the only noteworthy addition to the 5,000-word agreement, as per the report.
The term “Twitter Applications” pertains to the company’s “consumer facing products, services, applications, websites, web pages, platforms, and other offerings, including without limitation, those offered via https://twitter.com and Twitter’s mobile applications.” As verified via the Wayback Machine’s archival service, the clause prohibiting alternative apps was incorporated into the rules with the most recent update.
Before this modification, it was reported last week that several third-party apps like Tweetbot and Twitterific on iOS, as well as Fenix on Android, were unable to access Twitter services. At the time, no changes were notified and no issues with service were noted on Twitter’s API status page.
Twitter stated earlier this week that it was “enforcing long-standing API rules” by denying clients access to its platform but did not specify which rules were broken.
This new move from Elon Musk’s Twitter is not seen favourably. Twitterrific’s Sean Heber described Twitter as “increasingly capricious” and a company he “no longer recognise[d] as trustworthy nor want to work with any longer” in a blog post. In an interview with Engadget, Fenix developer Matteo Villa said, “It’s not totally unexpected,” but called the lack of communication “insulting.” Musk slashed the firm’s communications department as party of company-wide layoffs last November.
Twitter’s stance on third-party clients has long been tolerant. with the company previously removing a section from its developer terms that deterred developers from replicating its core service.
However, third-party apps on Twitter do not support sponsored posts or advertisements like the official apps, so the company does not profit from users on those apps. Since taking over as CEO of Twitter last year, Elon Musk has been working to increase the company’s revenue. The company, which has $12.5 billion (Rs. 1,01,500 crore) in debt, is due $300 million (roughly Rs. 2,400 crore) in interest payments and has lost a projected $4 billion (roughly Rs. 32,500) in value since Musk bought it at the end of October 2022.