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Twitter is removing free API access—and cutting off fun accounts in the process

Accounts have already started announcing that they will shut down.


Tiffany Kelly

Internet Culture

Posted on Feb 4, 2023   Updated on Feb 6, 2023, 8:23 am CST

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It’s been a minute since I’ve talked about the state of Twitter in this column. Let’s recap what’s going on, shall we?

On Thursday, the company said that it would cut free access to the Twitter API. Instead, Twitter plans to make it yet another paid feature.

The application programming interface, or API, is notably used in the creation of automated accounts that enhance the user experience on the app. There are bots that remind you of something, bots that let users read threads easily, and more. You can say that these bots fill in the gaps that the app itself provides. People even create fandom bots that tweet random lines from books or movies. 

And, of course, there are the accounts that automatically tweet animal pictures. By putting a price on it, Twitter is making its API inaccessible to many users. 

The news was immediately criticized on the app. And accounts have already started announcing that they will shut down.

“I regret to announce you all that this bot will stop working on 9th of February (Next week) due to new Twitter’s API policy,” tweeted @PossumEveryHour, which has more than 579,000 followers. “I have no intention on paying Twitter for basic API usage.”

The account linked to its Mastodon profile, as did other accounts

The policy change comes at a time when trust in the brand is shaky. On my own feed, I’ve noticed a change in the kind of content I see in my feed. The app’s own “for you” feed is pushing random accounts and videos on users, and people are complaining about not receiving notifications. This week, Elon Musk also briefly made his account private to see if he got more interactions

Why it matters

Twitter is an online space that thrives on community. And if the threads to building those communities are cut, the app will completely change

We need silly, automated accounts that share animal photos. We need tools that make using the app easier and provide better accessibility for users. Above all, we just want to have fun. And if people have to pay to have a good time, is it really a good time anymore?

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*First Published: Feb 4, 2023, 6:00 am CST