On February 1, 2023, Twitter announced via tweet that they were no longer going to be allowing free access to their API. They are ending free access to their development API in favor of a subscription-like service. I have seen this image used as evidence of the new cost of the API a few times, but this is incorrect. It’s actually a cropped picture of the prices for premium API access.
The only evidence of a price for the once-freely usable API comes from this conversation between Musk and some of his Twitter followers.
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.
Just ~$100/month for API access with ID verification will clean things up greatly.
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) February 2, 2023
The only statement from Twitter’s dev team that was released so far has been fairly vague. They stated “Twitter data are among the world’s most powerful data sets. We’re committed to enabling fast & comprehensive access so you can continue to build with us. We’ll be back with more details on what you can expect next week.”
With only a few days to adjust to the new model and without much information, many content creators are having a hard time with the change, some more vocally than others. One Twitter bot had this to say:
I make this website bearable. You should be paying *me*.
— scream is on mastodon: @botsin.space/@scream (@infinite_scream) February 2, 2023
When later asked to elaborate on their comment, the bot aptly replied with a simple scream. As for its creator who goes by Nora Reed on Twitter, I reached out for a comment on how they felt about the situation. They had this to say about it: “I just am very sad to see it go! People have really developed relationships with my bots over the years, and it’s been so fun to watch that happen.” At least her bot is also available on @firstname.lastname@example.org on Mastodon. As of this writing, Musk has eluded to free API for some bots, but there’s no word on the criteria for what “good content” is.
Responding to feedback, Twitter will enable a light, write-only API for bots providing good content that is free
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) February 5, 2023
Some popular utility bots like Thread Reader and Remind Me are used by thousands to improve everyday quality of life. I do not have a list of which bots will stay and which will go. However, I can tell you that today has been a grim day scrolling through Twitter, seeing the creators of the bots expressing their displeasure and saying goodbye to everyone.
Photo credits: The feature image has been taken by Michael Vi.