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Twitter announces new API pricing, posing a challenge for small developers

Twitter announces new API pricing, posing a challenge for small developers


After announcing it would be changing its API rules in February, Twitter has now detailed how free access to its API will work in the future.

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An illustration of the Twitter logo.
Illustration: Alex Castro / The Verge

Twitter has formally announced its revamped API tiers a month and a half after new CEO Elon Musk promised a big shake up of the system. In a thread, the company’s official developer account listed three tiers — free, basic, and enterprise — and provided some details on their prices and read and write limits. It also linked to signup pages, which offer links to get started with the first two tiers, and to express an interest in the third.

The company says older tiers will be deprecated “over the next 30 days.” Here’s a short summary of the three replacements (which can also be found on Twitter’s website): 

  • Free — Write-only access with the ability to post 1,500 tweets per month at no cost.
  • Basic — A $100 per month subscription for hobbyists with the option of posting 3,000 tweets per month at the user level, or 50,000 tweets per month at the app level. The read limit is 10,000 tweets.
  • Enterprise — Promises to offer “commercial-level access that meets your and your customer’s specific needs” as well as “managed services [from] a dedicated account team.” No specific price was listed, but Platformer previously reported that a “low-cost enterprise plan” could cost as much as $42,000 a month.

Responding to Twitter’s announcement, some developers said they’d have to kill their projects or pass the fees onto users. Accountanalysis developer Luca Hammer said he would have to shut down his tool designed to help journalists and academics analyze Twitter accounts. Daniel Nguyen, whose Ktool software sends Twitter threads to be read on Kindle, said the changes mean he’ll either have to stop supporting Twitter, or increase prices.

Another developer, who asked to remain anonymous, called the free tier “terrible” because of the limited post cap, and the apparent inability to read simple information like tweets, likes, and follows from the platform.

However, other developers, such as the team behind tweet scheduling service Typefully said they can afford the new pricing and so will continue supporting the platform. “But this would have totally killed us 1 year ago or back when we started,” Typefully co-founder Francesco Di Lorenzo tweeted.

Official details of the new tiers comes a month and a half after Twitter first announced it was making sweeping changes to the Twitter API from February 9th. But, the company quickly missed this self-imposed deadline and rolled back the most controversial change — cutting off free access to the API — in what has become a routine occurrence for the social media network under Musk’s ownership. Initial details about the new tiers were released last month.

A screenshot of Twitter’s website showing the three API access tiers.
A summary of the three tiers from Twitter’s website.

Today’s Twitter thread offers far fewer details on the options for academic researchers in the future, noting only that Twitter is “looking at new ways to continue serving this community.” It also says academics are free to sign up for any of the three other tiers. Academics have been critical of Twitter’s proposed changes to its API rules, TechCrunch previously reported, given how much they’ve relied on the platform’s generous academic API to conduct research.

Since taking over the social media network, Elon Musk has focused on cutting costs and boosting revenue, firing thousands of employees and doubling down on the company’s paid Twitter Blue subscription service. Although Musk initially justified the API changes by saying the free services was “being abused badly” by “bot scammers & opinion manipulators,” given his cost-cutting focus it’s hard not to see the changes made to Twitter’s API as an attempt to squeeze better margins out of the platform’s developer community. The same developer community it’s already heavily strained its relationship with.