Twitter shut off its free API and it's breaking a lot of apps

Even developers who want to pay for the API are having trouble.


Twitter has finally shut off its free API and, predictably, it’s breaking a lot of apps and websites. The company had previously said it would cut off access in early February, but later delayed the move without providing an updated timeline.

But, after announcing its new paid API tiers last week, the company seems to have started cutting off the thousands of developers relying on its free developer tools. Over the last couple days, a number of app makers and other services have reported that the Twitter API is no longer functioning. Mashable reported the shutoff seems to have started Tuesday morning, though many developers are still trying to understand what’s happening as Twitter doesn’t seem to have communicated with most developers about the changes.

The ending of Twitter’s free API comes after the company abruptly changed its rules to ban third-party Twitter clients as part of a larger shakeup of its developer strategy. But, as we’ve previously reported, third-party clients were only a small fraction of the developers, researchers, bot makers and others who relied on Twitter’s APIs.

For example, apps and websites that used Twitter’s API to enable sharing of content to and from Twitter are now seeing that functionality break. WordPress reported Tuesday that it was no longer able to access the API, rendering its websites unable to automatically share posts to Twitter. (The issue has since been fixed, according to the company.)

Likewise, Echobox, a service that allows publishers to share content on Twitter, said on Wednesday it was also disconnected from the Twitter API “without warning.” The company said it found a workaround, but hadn’t heard from Twitter. News reading app Flipboard, which recently began shifting its focus to Mastodon, also warned that anyone who used Flipboard to view Twitter feeds would soon see the feature disabled.

Many of Twitter’s bot developers are also impacted. The maker of “Cheap Bots Done Quick,” which allows people to create bots for Twitter, reported receiving a notice that they were cut off from the API. Twitter has said that its new “basic” tier is meant to provide a pathway to allow bots to continue, but many developers have said the monthly limit of 1,500 tweets is too constrained.

Newsletter platform Substack is also having issues using embedded tweets, though it’s unclear if this is related to the API shutdown or the company recently announcing a potential Twitter competitor. (Embeds seem to be functioning normally on other websites, including this one.)

All of these issues are further complicated by the fact that Twitter seems to have communicated very little with any of its developers about these changes or what they mean. Most of the employees who worked in developer relations were cut during the company’s mass layoffs. And the company’s developer forums are filled with posts from confused developers looking for answers. The company no longer has a communications team, and its press email auto-responds with a poop emoji.

As Mashable points out, the shutoff has even affected developers who are willing to pay for Twitter’s API, even though pricing for higher-level enterprise tiers is still unclear. “When Twitter announced these new tiers last week, we immediately sought to sign up for the Enterprise tier,” Echobox wrote in a blog post on Wednesday. “ We still have had no response from Twitter’s enterprise sales team and our access to the API was cut off without notice yesterday.”

News app Tweet Shelf said its API access had also been suspended despite applying for Enterprise API access. So did TweetDeleter, a service for automatically deleting tweets, and Tweet Archivist an analytics tool.

But it’s still unclear how many developers will be able to continue using Twitter’s API in some form. The free and $100/month “basic” tier are extremely limited compared to what was previously offered for free. And, while Twitter hasn’t revealed exactly how much the “enterprise” level will cost, many are expecting it to be prohibitively expensive – rumors have suggested it could cost $40,000 a month or more.

Some developers aren’t even waiting to find out the pricing details. The developer of Social Bearing, an analytics service used by researchers, said there was no way the service could continue to run. “I wish those of you left at Twitter and fellow devs the best of luck,” they tweeted.