Twitter Makes Changes to its APIs; Locks Down Third Parties

Twitter Makes Changes to its APIs; Locks Down Third Parties

By | August 18th, 2012
No Comments on Twitter Makes Changes to its APIs; Locks Down Third Parties

Twitter has detailed the changes coming in the next version of the Twitter

API (v1.1) and things don’t sound that great for third parties. The API

and Twitter’s guidelines for using them are becoming increasingly rigid

and locked down.


														               
							 	 						

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Twitter has detailed the changes coming in the next version of the Twitter API (v1.1) and things don’t sound that great for third parties. The API and Twitter’s guidelines for using them are becoming increasingly rigid and locked down.

The first change that the new version of the API details is that it will require all requests to be authenticated using OAuth. Currently many parts of the Twitter API are open to all, and this means some applications can abuse the API to make requests at heavy volume. In case of such apps all Twitter gets is an IP address. With this change each app will have to authenticate itself before it can use any part of the API, and if it is found to be abusive, Twitter can shut it down.

The second change coming to Twitter’s API is a change in rate limits. Twitter limits the number of times an application can call its API per hour. Currently this is limited to 350 per hour. Now these rate limits will be decided on a per-endpoint basis. So stuff that is lesser used might have a lower limit, such as 60 times an hour, while more frequently requested data such as “Tweet display, profile display, user lookup and user search” will have a much higher limit of 720 calls per hour. Depending on the kind of application, and the API endpoints used by it, this could be a positive or negative change.

Some of the more stringent changes though, have come to the so called “Developer Rules of the Road”. Twitter is turning its Display Guidelines into strict requirements, thus giving third-party Twitter client developers very little choice is how to display tweets. Any Twitter client not following these rules can be blocked from using the API.

Finally, and probably most importantly there are new restrictions on the number of users a third-party Twitter app can have at a time. Third-party Twitter clients will be limited to 100,000 users, after which they will need Twitter’s permission to continue expanding. Or if the application already has over 100,000 users, it will be able to expand up to 200% of its current user base, before it can no longer add new users, or needs Twitter’s permission to add users.

This can have a serious impact indeed on the current ecosystem of third-party clients. There is very little incentive for new third party apps to emerge given these restrictions. Especially couple this with the fact that they have been severely restricted from playing around with the presentation of tweets as well. There is little space left for Twitter clients to innovate.

It is understandable why Twitter is making these changes though. For it to survive at all it needs to pull people towards their own experiences and apps which give them most revenue and the ones directly under their control.

Even so, Twitter is what it is today in a large part because of its initially developer-friendly nature and the ecosystem of applications and services around it. Now that it had reached where it wanted to, it is shutting down the ecosystem that brought it where it is.

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Kshitij Sobti
Inserted into Kshitij's motivation banks is a particularly strong desire for justice. It's sad then, that he wastes his skills gaming, watching TV, and for the mundane task of writing prose. He tweets
@xitij2000