Twitter is introducing new guidelines that will limit how third-party apps can use the company’s data.
There’s a healthy range of software that taps into the Twitter API (application programming interface), including some like Echofon, Tweetlogix or Tweetbot (pictured below) that recreate what the main Twitter service does, while adding a few features of their own.
In 2011, Twitter made it clear that it’s not keen on apps that simply copy the “mainstream Twitter consumer client experience.”
In June this year Twitter flagged up that a change was coming. Some developers predicted that third party apps would be cut off from using the API completely, which would have knocked those apps stone dead.
Twitter’s Michael Sippey said at the time that “we’re hard at work building tools that make it easy for developers to build common Twitter features into their own sites in a simple and consistent way. These efforts highlight the increasing importance of us providing the core Twitter consumption experience through a consistent set of products and tools.”
Those accessing Twitter’s API must now be authenticated, there’s a new rate-limiting feature, and there are changes to how developers can display Twitter’s data.
In short, Tweets must be presented according to Twitter’s rules, and failure to do this may result in Twitter revoking a developer’s API keys. Any Twitter clients pre-installed on phones and chipsets must be explicitly approved by Twitter, or they won’t work.
The new rules also limit how many users an app could reach before the developer has to get permission from Twitter to continue, possibly after paying a fee. According to Wired, “The new rules appear to be an attempt by the company to make sure it can finance its enormous, always flowing stream of data.”
However, many Twitter fans – including celebrities and other power users – like using independently developed apps in preference to Twitter’s site, the official mobile apps or TweetDeck, the well established app that Twitter acquired in 2011.
In response to the news, the IT Crowd creator Graham Linehan Tweeted, “I don’t want a ‘consistent user experience’. I want the messy, adaptable service that I fell in love with. The one Twitter users helped create.”