After cutting off prominent app makers like Tweetbot and Twitterific, Twitter today quietly updated its developer terms to ban third-party clients entirely.
Discovered by Engadget, the Restrictions section of Twitter’s 5,000-something word Developer Agreement was updated with a clause that prohibits “using or accessing the Licensed Materials to create or attempt to create a replacement or similar service or product for the Twitter Applications.” Earlier this week, Twitter said it was “enforcing longstanding API rules” by denying customers access to its platform, but didn’t specify which specific rules developers broke. Now we know – retrospectively.
As Engadget notes, Twitter clients are part of Twitter history – Twitterific was created before Twitter had its own native iOS app. And they’ve gained a larger following in recent years, thanks in part to their lack of ads.
Twitter’s stance on third-party customers has long been permissive and even supportive, going so far as to do so Extinguish a section from its Developer Terms that prevented developers from replicating its core service. But that appears to have changed under the leadership of CEO Elon Musk.
The decision is unlikely to promote goodwill toward Twitter as the platform faces challenges on multiple fronts. In a blog post, Twitterrific’s Sean Heber called Twitter “increasingly moody” and a company he “no longer recognizes.”[d] as trustworthy and no longer want to work with him.” Matteo Villa, the developer of Fenix, called the lack of communication “insulting” in an interview with Engadget. (Twitter does not currently have a communications department.)
Twitter is under immense pressure to turn a profit — or at least break even — while advertisers are fleeing the platform, spurred by unpredictable, rapidly changing content policies. The company, which has $12.5 billion in debt, is on its first $300 million interest payment and has lost an estimated $4 billion in value since Musk acquired it in late October 2022 . Fidelity recently slashed the value of its stake in Twitter by 56%.
Twitter cuts abound. Some employees are bringing their own toilet paper to work after the company scaled back janitorial services, the New York Times reported, and Twitter has halted rent payments for several of its offices. Elsewhere, Musk has sought to save about $500 million in non-work related expenses by closing a data center and launching a fire sale after auctioning off office supplies to recoup costs.
Twitter is also heavily pushing its Twitter Blue Plan (now with an annual option) to make it a profit driver. It plans to lift its ban on political advertising and hunt for campaign dollars in the 2024 US election. And the company is reportedly considering selling usernames through online auctions.