Twitter's recent announcement to discontinue free access to its API has been followed by the revelation of a new pricing structure. The microblogging giant will now charge $100 per month for the basic tier of API access, which will include a yet-to-be-defined "low level of API usage" and something called "Ads API". The initial deadline for the end of free access was February 9, but it has been extended to February 13, with limited information available on the exact changes to API access and pricing.
Paid basic access that offers low level of API usage, and access to Ads API for a $100 monthly fee.— Twitter Dev (@TwitterDev) February 8, 2023
According to Elon Musk, the decision to charge for the API was because the current free API tier was being misused and wasn't contributing much to the platform.
Yeah, free API is being abused badly right now by bot scammers & opinion manipulators. There’s no verification process or cost, so easy to spin up 100k bots to do bad things.— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) February 2, 2023
Just ~$100/month for API access with ID verification will clean things up greatly.
Last week however, Musk promised to offer a free API for bots posting "good" content after developers lashed out on Twitter's decision to charge for its API. The definition of "good content" remains unclear.
Twitter also said that it will depreciate its premium API, which was part of v1.1, effective February 13. Instead, the company has stated that developers have the option to apply for enterprise access.
The discontinuation of Twitter's free API tier is causing ripples across various industries and has raised concerns for academic researchers who have relied on the platform for data and trend analysis.. One such example is the Seattle Police Department, which is being forced to deactivate its Twitter account that provide updates on crime. The SPD has relied on the API tool to pull data from Twitter for use in automated bots and crime alerts.
Due to changes being made at Twitter, SPD’s Tweets by Beat accounts will stop providing updates as of February 9th, 2023: https://t.co/UIvTrC6pJK— Seattle Police Dept. (@SeattlePD) February 9, 2023
The dedicated "Tweets by Beat" page links to different Twitter feeds for each of Seattle's 51 police beats, posting automated tweets for crimes in neighborhoods an hour after a dispatcher sends a call to an officer.
Previously, Twitter provided special access to researchers with API v2, but it is unclear if this access will continue as the social network discontinues the free API tiers. With this data, researchers have been able to observe safety issues on Twitter, including trends related to hate speech and misinformation.
The new move to charge for API access is seen as an attempt by Twitter to monetize the platform and bring in more revenue. Despite the expansion of Twitter Blue to 15 countries, reports indicate that only a limited number of people, around 180,000, have signed up for the service in the US alone, which is less than 0.2 percent of Twitter's monthly active users. The platform's revenue from subscriptions is expected to be relatively low, at around $27.8 million this year.
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