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What happens when Twitter charges folks to access their API!?

Twitter may soon charge for use of their API, which could limit research of human behavior, and ad analytics tools… what’s next?

twitter api

Twitter has been a powerhouse social media platform for nearly two decades. When Elon Musk purchased of the platform, some users initially found the new methods to be freeing, but sentiment towards new policy changes has many frustrated and accusing Musk of being restrictive and greedy.

It started with firing many of the staff and removing whole sections of the company as a cost saving move. 

Then there was the infamous blue checkmark costs. The once free checkmark confirmed a person’s identity (mainly used by celebrities and companies) was believed to be vital to determine who was real and who was not. Now it costs $8 monthly to maintain. 

Now, Twitter is throwing another wrench into the mix to monetize the platform. TechCrunch reports that Musk has indicated that Twitter will be ending free access to the Twitter API and replacing it with a paid version. There is no current confirmation on how much the paid version will cost. 

If you have no idea what an API is, here’s the breakdown – it’s an application interface that allows two apps to speak to each other via data. It tracks legally obtained data (yes, per that privacy policy you agreed to and didn’t read) and provides it to developers. It’s used at Twitter to understand and build better communication with tweets, for research, and to track account changes.

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The main reason developers use it is the link to the Twitter Ad API, meaning they can track ad analytics and manage ad campaigns – a very vital use for businesses big and small. The Twitter API is also used for things like research, for example, of hate speech and online abuse. Monetizing access to API could halt that research and other research like human behavior studies and the spread of disinformation. 

Clearly, charging developers to use Twitter API is going to impact the community.  I understand a company’s need to make money, but it feels like Twitter is trying to squeeze water out of a rock.

We’ll be watching for more creative business model adjustments, as Musk has confirmed they are looking for more avenues to monetize Twitter.

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A native New Englander who migrated to Austin on a whim, Stephanie Dominique is a freelance copywriter, novelist, and certificate enthusiast. When she's not getting howled at by two dachshunds or inhaling enough sugar to put a giant into shock, she is reading, cooking or writing about her passions.

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