Twitter officially bans third-party clients with new developer rules


Twitter has updated its developer rules to ban third-party clients, almost a week after it unceremoniously blocked the apps’ access to its platform, offering almost no explanation to what was going on (via Engadget). The new rules state that you can’t use Twitter’s API or content to “create or attempt to create a substitute or similar service or product to the Twitter Applications.”

The rules, updated on Thursday, make it clear what that means: “Twitter Applications” refers to the company’s “consumer facing products, services, applications, websites, web pages, platforms, and other offerings, including without limitation, those offered via https://twitter.com and Twitter’s mobile applications.” The clause banning alternative services was added to the rules with the most recent update, according to the Wayback Machine.

The rule change comes after Twitter silently broke several popular third-party Twitter clients like Tweetbot and Twitterific starting on January 12th. At the time, the developers behind the apps (many of which have historically shaped the entire Twitter user experience) said they had received no communication whatsoever from the company about what was happening. Then, on January 17th, the company’s developer account tweeted that it was “enforcing its long-standing API rules,” which “may result in some apps not working.”

“We have been respectful of their API rules, as published, for the past 16 years,” wrote Ged Maheux, a co-founder of Twitterific developer The Iconfactory, in a blog post about the app being down. “We have no knowledge that these rules have changed recently or what those changes might be.”

Craig Hockenberry, principal at Iconfactory, put it more bluntly on his personal blog: “There was no advance notice for its creators, customers just got a weird error, and no one is explaining what’s going on. We had no chance to thank customers who have been with us for over a decade. Instead, it’s just another scene in their ongoing shit show.”

There seemingly hasn’t been any official announcement of the rule change, either from Twitter Dev or Elon Musk. Twitter doesn’t have a communications department to contact.





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