Twitter Starts Clamping Down On Third-Party Apps With New Rules

Twitter Starts Clamping Down On Third-Party Apps With New Rules

Twitter has announced some new changes that make it significantly more difficult and tedious to develop third-party software around the social network. We’ve known that Twitter was evolving its business model and changing its attitude towards developers for quite some time, but this recent announcement marks the first major shift towards a closed Twitter. To put it plainly, many developers probably won’t be looking at Twitter as a potential platform to build on anymore.

What’s changed? Along with a host of new rules and restrictions that limit how apps like Flipboard interact with Twitter, developers are now being told to basically stop developing traditional clients like Twitterrific and Tweetbot. The golden age of Twitter is over.

From now on, developers will need to work “with” Twitter before their apps can attract large user bases. The amount of times per hour an app can call on Twitter to retrieve new tweets has been greatly restricted, and developers have a max user base they can serve. If, say, an app like Tweetbot were to reach 100,000 users, no more users would be able to use the app until the developers got in contact with Twitter to work something out. If an app already has more than 100,000 users as of today, it can double its user base before the developers have to contact Twitter directly. What happens when Twitter gets involved remains up in the air. It’s Twitter’s game now.

Twitter Starts Clamping Down On Third-Party Apps With New Rules

Twitter doesn’t want you making apps that fall in the top right section, so basically anything that deals with consumer engagement.

Twitter also says, “Tweets that are grouped together into a timeline should not be rendered with non-Twitter content. e.g. comments, updates from other networks.” This means that a Twitter timeline cannot be grouped together with any other information, like a stream of multiple feeds from different social networks. There are all kinds of vague restrictions in the new rules that developers will have to figure out through trial by fire in the coming months.

The scariest thing about these changes is that Twitter could add more rules at any moment. This feels like just the tip of the iceberg. The third-party Twitter apps you use now probably won’t change for awhile, but Twitter is sending the message that it wants its whole user base on its own official clients. Less and less room is being left for third-party developers, and it’s only a matter of time before there’s no room for third-party, consumer-orientated apps in Twitter’s universe.

And no, Twitter still hasn’t announced any changes to its incredibly outdated Mac app.

  • avidwriter_

    “And no, Twitter still hasn’t announced any changes to its incredibly outdated Mac app.” that’s what I find most disturbing. Their clients are garbage as they stand now.

  • pollix

    “And no, Twitter still hasn’t announced any changes to its incredibly outdated Mac app.” that’s what I find most disturbing. Their clients are garbage as they stand now.

    You are exactly right. Every Twitter client except the iPhone app is garbage. I wish they would take a hint and start developing the ones they purchased.

  • ilenesmachine

    Could Twitter be doing this to prevent all those up and coming apps from grouping “their” content with content from other sites? I know a few developers working on collated info from multiple sites as content for their site; which is essentially stealing content. Everyone seems to be targeting Twitter as the bad guy to restrict access to “their” content; but I wonder if it isn’t a game of just protecting their asses. Comment?

  • davester13

    They just need a ‘matrix’ of two squares:

    Useless vanity apps -> keep pumping them out
    Apps that make Twitter more useful -> stop making them

  • grelca

    It’d be really nice if the official client didn’t look like absolute crap on the retina MBP.

  • hanhothi

    Will this lead to a decline in Tweet numbers? Twitter could be damaging itself with this move. Although a strong company right now, things change fast and I have seen big companies decline, such as the downfall of IBM with the rise of Microsoft. I have never understood the need for the integration of Twitter and Facebook in iOS and apps. These companies are ephemeral, they come and go. Bye bye Twitter, something else will take your place. No loss to me!

  • TheKnightWhoSaysNi

    So, they reveal themselves as complete 4$$#0135.

  • Joe Streno

    Maybe it’s time for a #TwitterBlackout! If people stop using Twitter even for a day … maybe they’ll get the message. Maybe it’s time for someone to develop a new alternative. More easily said than done. But if Twitter is trying to shoot themselves in the foot, maybe it’s up to us to help them out. Just stop using it.

  • Alfred2612

    Maybe it’s time for a #TwitterBlackout!

    I agree. I’ll just retweet that.

  • ElVox

    To me, twitter is Tweetbot…the day I can’t use tweetbot, I’ll stop using twitter, period.

  • nthnm

    I’d have no problem using the official Twitter apps if they actually made them useful. The web and Mac apps are some of the worst available.

About the author

Alex HeathAlex Heath is a senior writer at Cult of Mac and co-host of the CultCast. He has been quoted by the likes of the BBC, KRON 4 News, and books like "ICONIC: A Photographic Tribute to Apple Innovation." If you want to pitch a story, share a tip, or just get in touch, additional contact information is available on his personal site. Twitter always works too.

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