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Twitter delays shutdown of legacy APIs as it launches a replacement (techcrunch.com)
77 points by Garbage 5 months ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 65 comments



A reminder: "Jack Dorsey apologizes to Twitter developers for chasing them away"[0]

Not. Even. Three. Years.

Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice..

0: https://www.theverge.com/2015/10/21/9586084/jack-dorsey-twit...


wow. i was actually considering making a twitter client for my own use (and maybe others). but given how hellbent Twitter is on making life difficult for third party devs I have no confidence in this. also: $339/month for more than 15 accounts? come on. We're not all Twitter, Twitter.


Given the past 2 months of rage against Facebook, I don't understand how it's rational for any social media company to have a public API anymore.

If you go back look at when Facebook actually changed their API to stop the stuff that CA was doing, you'll see similar comments about how it's "killing the developer ecosystem". But ultimately it was a good thing that they closed those loopholes.


I love Tweetbot, I love that it syncs between iOs and Mac. I like having a chronological timeline, I love that it keeps where I am in the timeline, I like the interface with the side swipes, etc.

This is a terrible move by Twitter. It might be a relatively small number of users, but it's mostly power-users and super-fans, and this needlessly hurts them.

If Twitter wants to make more money from them, just add ads in the third party stream. Don't try to kill third party apps.


When they announced the changes a while back I did a personal test and switched to using the Twitter website and their app on the iPhone. Outside of not showing ads, I think I know why they want to do away with 3rd party clients. 3rd party clients have them beat by a mile when it comes to ease of use. I don't think they can, nor want to compete with that. They'd rather show me what they think I want to see, rather than what I actually want to see. I just can't help feeling like my days on Twitter are numbered, which is sad having been on there for ten years now. I'm just not their target anymore.


"They'd rather show me what they think I want to see, rather than what I actually want to see."

I think it's actually that they'd rather show you what they want you to see, rather than what you actually want to see. This includes promoted content.


I'd agree in part. Outside of promoted content, they also try to force "things I might have missed" on me. I never want to see this. I browse in chronological order and will see it without their "help".


I'd be happy with a feed that is in chronological order, even with ads & promoted tweets, so log as it does not include:

- "what I missed"

- follow recommendations

- the likes of who I follow - show me their retweets, not their likes


> 3rd party clients have them beat by a mile when it comes to ease of use.

They solved this problem when they bought Tweetie, the most popular 3rd party client at the time when they didn't have a 1st party one. They then removed and replaced it with the current one.


Since Twitter killed Twitter for Mac, my Twitter usage declined 80%.

I switched to Tweetbot but still never liked it. I’ve been hoping a nicer client would come along.

The reason I used Twitter as much as I did was that it’s client made it super convenient while working to just open with a keyboard shortcut for a couple seconds, poke around and then hide again and get back to work.

Forcing me to the website means I have to actually think about using Twitter; I have to interrupt what I am doing, rather than being a reflex. It means they’re killing most of the other 20% of my usage.

I really think they’re throwing the baby out with the bath water here.


Yep. Basically haven't used twitter actively since the app stopped working.

Before it was always at a reserved spot on my 2nd screen.

I kinda miss it - but not enough to open a tab in my browser and log in.


I have absolutely no problem with Twitter trying to earn money. I just don't get how they are trying to do it?

When I'm reading my Twitter timeline in Twitterific, I'm not seeing ads. Which is probably why twitter wants me to use their website.

But why don't they just require third-party apps to show paid tweets? IIRC it's not even possible currently, because ads don't show up in their API output.

It seems insane to stymie the universe of alternative CLIENTS when what you contrl is the MESSAGES.


What I don’t understand is why Twitter don’t maintain the existing streaming chronological ad-free API and allow third party clients to connect to it, but to charge users a subscription to enable it for their account. This, to me, is so obvious that I must be missing something. Potentially it’s along the lines of Facebook’s quoted $35/month income per US user, but I can’t be alone in being tempted to abandon the platform if forced to an ad-ridden 1st-party-client (or no client on desktop) with an algorithmic feed.


With the insane pricing plans Twitter just announced for third parties, it's approaching $15/month per user to maintain current feature parity and have things like push notifications and stats info.

Feels like they are shooting themselves in the foot considering how many of their longest influential users are on Tweetbot and Twitteriffic, not to mention ingrateful considering how important Twitteriffic in particular was to many of the Twitter norms early on.

Also lame considering what hot garbage the native official desktop app is in comparison, all of this just makes me truly likely to seek alternatives if third party apps must go away, maybe micro.blog


I wonder if it is the pricing issue. The Techcrunch article has a screenshot of Twitter's paid pricing, and they show "25 subscriptions" as "$339/month"... which is $13.56 USD/month per subscription.

If Twitter is actually charging $13.56/mth per account, I guess that explains why they never did a consumer subscription. I've always wanted to pay for Twitter, but that's more than Netflix, more than Dropbox, more than Spotify.

Unless I have drastically misread that image, which is entirely possible. I'm not clear on what is included in one "subscription".


Presumably a publicly released app isn't going for a 25 subscriptions at $14/account deal, they must be targeting some special enterprise/social marketing space. It isn't obvious that a random consumer would expect to pay the same.


The makers of Twitterrific (desktop Mac app) have confirmed the pricing per 3rd-party user and that they likely can't continue:

"It’s looking like it won’t be financially possible for us to afford the new account activity API from twitter."

"Many of you have done the math and seen it would be about $12/user/month for notifications - but don’t forget that in order to do a subscription we’d have to cover Apple’s 30% overhead and make enough for us to pay for food and shelter. So, uh… yeah."

"This isn’t a “wow that’s kind of expensive” situation. This is “deathblow expensive” situation."

[1] https://twitter.com/BigZaphod/status/996785022886608896

[2] https://twitter.com/BigZaphod/status/996831340740972549


Yeah, I just meant that the move seems to pretty clearly be "no more API access for consumer apps, only for internal enterprise type use cases".


The whole history of twitter is that they stumbled onto something that works and then had no idea how to capitalise on it.

I sincerely believe they don't even have a good understanding on how and why their platform really works for people.

The trend of shutting down clients and api has been going on for years now. This is ridiculous.


Impressions are an important ad metric. How can you trust a third party app to accurately measure impressions?


Here are two options, I'm sure there are more:

- Require third party apps to install an impression tracking SDK

- Return URLs in API responses to media hosted on Twitter's servers and do tracking server side


You could contractually require it, and verify it with random sampling on the client apps. If a Twitter employee views a tweet on the third-party app and Twitter doesn't get an impression notification, then there is a problem.


Seems practical. They already have an army of content moderators responsible for millions of feeds. Having them spot-check several hundred or several thousand third-party clients once every month or two doesn't seem like a large increase in their workload.

I mean, that's a single full-time employee (or less). If there are 2000 third-party clients and the goal is to spot-check them once per month, this hypothetical full-time employee would need to check 80 of them per day. That's one spot check every six minutes for eight hours a day if they work 25 days a month.

Not exactly the most exciting work, but easily doable. And that doesn't need to exactly be a highly paid employee either. I believe the big social media companies offshore a lot of that grunt work to other countries.

So we're talking what, thirty or forty grand a year for Twitter to implement that?


Have a sandbox level, then Twitter reviews the app to ensure impressions are being accurately reported, and then allow it to go live.


This is exactly the approach that resulted in the Cambridge Analytica scandal.


Have the clicks redirect through a twitter server?


impressions are not clicks.


No, but impressions do require downloading content from a server, which can be tracked. The trouble would be cases where apps are preloading content, so it's downloaded but the user might not have seen it yet.


Or - as is often the case - the consumer is caching api responses for some period.


I browsed my first website in 1994. It was weird and took forever to load. Over time, I got a bunch of bookmarks and kept discovering new sites on a weekly basis.

These days, I browse HN, proggit, Twitter, Reddit and Metafilter regularly. If Twitter really does nerf their APIs, I'll have to stop visiting it because principles, and it will take 20% of my current Web universe with it.

Not sure if my other hotspots will take its place, or if I'll finally start turning away from the Web.



I tried Mastodon recently and got the feeling it's only crazy people :)

Maybe I just don't find the right people. On Twitter, I can look up people I'm interested in. Like "That company is doing something cool, let's follow the CEO on Twitter". But on Mastodon?

Is there anybody 'normal' on there who posts substantial stuff?


That's the problem of network effect - the 'normal' people are already posting on the 'normal' social networks with their 'normal' friends.

Most likely don't want to leave for other networks because what they have works for them. An alternative to the mainstream doesn't appeal to people who don't reject the mainstream, and another social network alongside what they have might seem redundant.


There are plenty of unique and interesting posters on Mastodon. mastodon.technology is full of vintage computer experts, BBS operators, people working to revitalize Gopher as an alternative to the ad-saturated web, and more. And that’s just one instance. There are other instances where people congregate to discuss art, music, books, and punk rock. There’s a Star Wars themed instance, there’s safe places for sex workers and LGBTQ posters, and all you have to do is care about one of these things to find a whole world of enthusiasts. Searching http://instances.social gives you a huge list of registered instances.

But if you think people are divided up into “normal” and “not normal” (and your definition of normal is “some CEO”) then yeah, maybe Mastodon isn’t right for you.


    full of vintage computer experts, BBS operators,
    people working to revitalize Gopher
That's what I meant with 'crazy people' :)


"crazy" is a little unfair there. Particularly with just how mainstream it has become to collect and use retro hardware.

I think what you're trying to say is "the aforementioned social network doesn't have people who share the same interests as me" rather than it being full of people who are mentally unwell.


So your definition of 'normal people' is people who have no hobby and are in no way interesting? Are artists 'crazy' too? There's plenty of those on Mastodon. If your answer is yes, am not sure I want to follow the 'normal people'.

As another poster put it "An alternative to the mainstream doesn't appeal to people who don't reject the mainstream".



I'm pretty sure the instance dedicated to sex workers got shut down because of SESTA/FOSTA.


No, they have just been having traffic issues, DDOS and of course can't use any US based services.

One of the founders wrote about it yesterday https://medium.com/assembly-four/my-six-week-rollercoaster-r...


Glad to hear that's back up. The last thing I heard about it was CloudFlare giving them the boot.


Probably, but really hard to find. I think alternative social media will only take off with very good integration with other social media we have now.


You can follow me! I'm not crazy! (I think...)

https://kwat.chat/rocky1138


Looking at the about page of kwat.chat, it says it is based on GNU Social. Can you use Mastodon to follow people on kwat.chat? Does Mastodon use GNU Social or does it support it somehow?


Both of them use the OStatus protocol, so people can follow anyone on any of the services. Mastodon is a new implementation of the OStatus spec.


Or https://micro.blog? Feels like Twitter 9 years ago, and you can just hop on board with your own blog at your own domain as long as it has an RSS or JSON feed.

Clients for iOS and Android are being built by indie developers - icro for iOS is great and there's also Dialog for Android now.


Which Mastodon instances do you recommend? (I don't have energy to run my own.)


https://spidr.today is an intriguing news aggregator:

> SPIDR is an AI-powered news aggregator that uses textual analysis to group similar news together

> The aim is to provide fast access to relevant news from different viewpoints

Comments, vote up/down is available.


Twitter has somehow managed to mis manage their developer ecosystem time and time again. It’s incredibly sad.

By now they should have a massive developer ecosystem but these arbitrary measures Lead to no developer wanting to build on Twitter.


FWIW, on Mac I can recommend Twitter's own "TweetDeck" which is really quite great, multiple columns, multiple accounts, scheduled tweets, etc. Really hope they don't shut that down in addition to the main Twitter client...


The last update for TweetDeck Mac on the App Store was 14 July 2015 [1], and they discontinued TweetDeck for iPhone & Android back in 2013 [2]. Twitter seems to have little interest in native desktop apps.

(That said, the TweetDeck web app is not bad, and can be accessed by anyone at tweetdeck.twitter.com.)

[1] https://itunes.apple.com/gb/app/tweetdeck/id485812721?mt=12

[2] https://blog.twitter.com/official/en_us/a/2013/an-update-on-...


TweetDeck was originally a third-party app developed using the API. Twitter keeps grabbing up the good stuff people build on the API and then shutting down any competitors.


The solution for my addiction to twitter is to ocassionally delete Tweetbot on Mac and iOS, and use Twitter app or website.

Sad that apps like Tweetbot wont have the full features Gald that Twitter is addressing my problems with wasting so much time on Tweetbot!

I'm not sure, but Twitter will be losing a huge user base that is very influential and add a good chunk of value to the platform, that can afford to pay, like even $10 - $20 a month for these 3rd party apps. Not sure why Twitter cannot come up with a paid subscription model through third party apps for power users.


Is there any legal barrier to just parse the html of twitters normal pages?

If I write an app for myself, I'm pretty sure it's legal.

If I sell my app, I would think it's still legal. It's similar to an ad blocker. It sits on the users computer and formats the page the user wants it formatted.

Am I missing something?


> Is there any legal barrier to just parse the html of twitters normal pages?

That wouldn't be a worthwhile effort, as it woulnd't give you any of the features the API deprecation is taking away (notifications, streaming vs polling, & a few others). You could just use the new API and live without those things more easily than trying to maintain a web-scraping setup.


Not sure about the legality of it, but what happens to your app when Twitter changes their HTML structure (without notice, which is how it would be)? If it fails, users will likely just go elsewhere.


I've said this before, but Twitter should have an app store. Sure, have third party apps, but have them be vetted and I suppose be required to display Twitter's ads in an approved way. Everybody wins?


I'm still surprised that no company has been able to de-throne Twitter.


The network effect is an amazing force and all too easy to underestimate.


Can someone give a short summary of the changes and what will be axed? From a quick look, follower counts should still be easy to retrieve from the free tier, right?


They're removing the streaming APIs, these allow a single long term connection to receive tweets, follows, etc... in favor of a Webhook solution.

The issue is that there are not comparable solutions. The streaming API allows a user to connection directly. With the webhook solution it has to all go via 3rd party server, and you need to pay for it.


Whenever things like this come up, I think "What can I do with their 'official API' that I can't get from just parsing the regular twitter.com/(URL goes here) pages?"


If you scrape it a few times per day, I'm sure they wouldn't notice.

You could certainly build a barebones scraper in a very minimal amount of time, and that would probably work forever.

The amount of work required to go from "bare bones" to "actually pretty nice" ala Tweetbot is not a trivial amount of work though.


Not to mention Twitter would ban your IP if you did large amounts of scraping.


It's about getting information in realtime, i.e. @mentions, DMs. Polling for that sort of stuff is time consuming and you'll hit the limits pretty quickly.




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