Twitter is shutting down its free API, here’s what’s going to break

Twitter is shutting down its free API, here’s what’s going to break

Of all the once-unthinkable changes Elon Musk had made since taking over Twitter, pulling the rug out from under developers might seem relatively minor. After banning third-party clients without warning, Twitter announced that it would no longer allow any developer to use its APIs for free.

So far, Twitter has communicated very little about the changes, other than confirming a February 9th cut-off date. Musk has suggested Twitter could charge $100 a month “with ID verification,” but hasn’t elaborated. What we do know, is that once free access is shut off, thousands of apps, research projects, bots and other services will stop functioning (or, at the very least, be interrupted). If you’re a Twitter user, chances are this will affect you in some way, and you shouldn’t wait until it’s too late to prepare.

Change logins for apps where you’ve signed in with Twitter

If you’ve ever used your Twitter credentials to sign into another service, the coming API shutoff could prevent you from being able to access your account. That means you’ll want to double check which services you’ve used Twitter as a login for, and change your account info while you’re still able to.

You can check which services have access to your Twitter account via Settings -> Security and Account Access -> Apps and sessions -> Connected Apps (or, clicking here). Depending on the service, you may have to create an entirely new account with different credentials.

Nuke your tweets

There are a lot of good reasons to delete your old tweets. But if you haven’t already, your window for easily doing so is rapidly closing. If you want to wipe your tweet history, check out TweetDelete, TwitWipe, TweetDeleter, or another similar service. Note that there are a handful of subscription-based tweet deletion services. It may be a good idea to hold off on using a paid service for now until it’s clear whether any of these apps will continue to operate after the API changes go into effect.

Find your mutuals on Mastodon

Whether you’re new to the Fediverse or not, now would be a very good time to find all your mutuals from Twitter over on Mastodon. Services like Movetodon and Twitodon enable you to easily find familiar accounts on Mastodon. Rebuilding your following graph on a new platform can be one of the biggest hurdles to getting started, so even if you’re not sure about switching, it’s not a bad idea to use these tools while you still can.

Everything else

Unfortunately, the effects of ending the free API will be much more far-reaching than just these services. The future of Twitter’s bots — the automated accounts that share everything from weather updates, helpful reminders, jokes and emergency alerts — is now very much uncertain. While Musk has indicated that he may allow some bots with “good” content to access the Twitter API for free, it’s not at all clear how this will work, or if paying for Twitter Blue will be a requirement. So far, a number of bot developers have said they will not pay for use of Twitter’s API and are planning for their accounts to go dark on the 9th.

The API changes will also have a disastrous impact on the research community. Currently, there are scores of journalists, nonprofits and academic institutions that use Twitter’s API to research misinformation, public health, education and numerous other issues. Requiring these researchers to pay could effectively end these projects, particularly for organizations that are smaller and not as well-funded. For now, it’s not clear if these organizations will have any other options available to them.

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