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Twitter tries harder to promote third-party safety tools

Twitter tries harder to promote third-party safety tools


In new test for select users

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Illustration by Alex Castro / The Verge

Twitter has launched a new limited experiment that will see it promote developers’ third-party safety tools natively on its service, TechCrunch reports. The test will initially focus on apps like Block Party, Bodyguard and Moderate, which can help block harassment and other toxic content on the platform.

With this experiment, select users will see these services promoted with a new prompt when they mute or block another account on Twitter. It highlights apps featured in Twitter Toolbox, a recently launched initiative that currently promotes third-party Twitter tools in an online hub. “The Twitter Toolbox offers more solutions to improve your experience on Twitter,” the prompt reads, before listing a selection of services.

The experiment is Twitter’s attempt to promote third-party tools on its platform, which currently have to rely on word-of-mouth or traditional advertising to attract new users. “[Developers] want users and we want to provide them with the right users at the right time,” Twitter’s head of product, Amir Shevat, tells TechCrunch.

An example of the third-party tools prompt shown to users in the test.
An example of the third-party tools prompt shown to users in the test.
Image: Twitter via TechCrunch

It comes as Twitter is attempting to overhaul its historically fractious relationship with third-party developers. In the early days of Twitter, the social media network had a very open approach, allowing developers to build fully-featured third-party clients for its service. But by 2012 this approach was changing, and as of 2018, Twitter had effectively killed the market for feature-complete third-party clients

But just two years later, the company was rebuilding the tools available to third-party developers. It launched version 2 of its API in early access in 2020, with support for “conversation threading, poll results in Tweets, pinned Tweets on profiles, spam filtering, and a more powerful stream filtering and search query language.” The new API left early access last year, although it still places some limits on developers, like limiting them to pulling 500,000 or 2 million tweets a month, depending on their access tier. 

According to Shevat, the hope is to encourage a mutually beneficial relationship between Twitter and third-party developers. “I think of Twitter right now as the old Nokia phone… it was a good phone. But the only app on it was Snake, if you remember,” Shevat tells TechCrunch. “I see the future of Twitter as an iPhone, where the value that you get is actually through developer innovation.”