Desperate to Turn a Profit, Twitter Ends Free Access to Company API
In another controversial move, Twitter is shutting down free access to its API, which allows third-party developers and researchers to build apps and tools that connect with the platform.
Instead, the social media service is introducing a “paid basic tier” to replace the free access on Feb. 9. The company’s official @TwitterDev account is justifying the change saying it’s time people pay for all the valuable data and insights circulating on the platform.
“Twitter data are among the world’s most powerful data sets. We’re committed to enabling fast and comprehensive access so you can continue to build with us,” the account wrote. “We’ll be back with more details on what you can expect next week.”
Twitter didn’t say how much it’ll charge for access. But the company already charges for API access through a Premium tier, which can range from $149 up to $2,499 per month. The basic “Sandbox” tier, on the other hand, is currently free and offers up to 250 API requests per month.
Twitter’s decision to go after free users is already turning off some third-party developers and academics. “Elon [Musk] kills Twitter research,” wrote Claes de Vreese, a professor at the University of Amsterdam. “Free Twitter API access —for better and worse— was a key resource for students and scholars around the world. Now set to be paid resource.”
Still, it’s no surprise that Twitter has decided to charge for the API access under new owner Elon Musk. He’s made it a priority to turn Twitter into a profitable business after spending $44 billion to buy the company. In December, Musk said the platform was facing a financial crisis amid an advertiser exodus, which forced him to slash jobs and cut operational costs.
Last month, Twitter also signaled it was making drastic changes to the API access when it blocked third-party clients, such as Tweetbot and Twitterrific, from using it without warning. A week later, the company officially banned third-party clients from the API.