The Twitter Debacle

Ever since Elon Musk took reluctant control of Twitter he has been walking a tightrope as he balances bringing Twitter into the black with not losing the core base of users. That includes laying off a large number of staff.

One decision that I think he might yet come to regret is the change to the API access moving from free access to a freemium model. Where you used to be able to post an unlimited number of tweets this is now restricted – 1,500 a month for the free account, 50,000 a month for $100 and so on up.

This affects more people than you might think. For example, I received the following email from WordPress telling me that because of the API access change, I would no longer be able to automatically tweet my posts when publishing.

Why this matters

You may be wondering why this matters. The reason is twofold. Firstly, content matters. People come to social networks for content and if they can’t find what they want they will go elsewhere. Of course, there is still lots of content on Twitter but that is (mostly) human-generated. Bots play an important part in the rich content on the platform – whether it is Daphne’s Catflap or the position of Elon’s plane. With those gone or restricted, you lose some of the uniqueness of Twitter.

The second reason is that I know of no other social network that restricts its API in this way. Meta’s API allows unrestricted access to both FaceBook and Instagram as does Google’s YouTube API. Why do they do that? Because they want and need content on their platforms to survive.

As for me, I have rewritten my own bot to comply and, fortunately, I will be able to remain on the free tier but I wonder what we will lose from those that cannot afford the higher costs?

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