The Twitter API bug that has rendered third-party Twitter clients unusable since Friday is looking increasingly more like a deliberated act. If Twitter has yet to communicate about it, internal messages seen by The Information (paywalled) suggest that Twitter shutting down its API was a company decision.
“The reason for the suspension couldn’t be learned,” The Information reported. “Speculation on one blog this week raised the possibility that Twitter might have turned off access to the apps deliberately because they don’t help drive ad revenue. At least some don’t show ads that appear on Twitter. That means the apps may be hurting Elon Musk’s ability to stop a major decline in ad revenue in the past two months.”
In recent years, Twitter API restrictions had already made it difficult for developers to compete with Twitter’s native apps. Features like Twitter polls, Spaces, or Communities weren’t available on third-party apps. It was only going to get worse now that Elon Musk’s Twitter is in a “move fast and break things” mode.
For now, die-hard Twitter users have no choice but to use Twitter’s official apps, where an algorithmic “For you” feed will soon be the default everywhere. While you can still switch to a non-algorithmic “Following” feed, you’re still likely to see more ads on Twitter’s official apps. Which is exactly what Twitter needs right now.
As expected, the developers of the most popular Twitter clients are not happy. In a post titled “The Shit Show,” Craig Hockenberry, the creator of the Twitterrific third-party client said that he was “done” with Twitter. “There’s no sense in clinging to the personal whims of a clown leading a shit show. Especially when his circus will end up being a $44 billion version of MySpace,” Hockenberry wrote.
The Twitterrific creator, who has been active on Mastodon “since the billionaire bozo took over” hinted that he was ready to explore other things such as the ActivityPub open protocol that Mastodon and other platforms on the “Fediverse” support. Tapbots, the company behind the popular Tweetbot client for iOS and macOS has already started working on Ivory, a Mastodon client that will be available in early access at the end of the month.
It’s too early to tell if Mastodon will emerge as the most credible alternative to Twitter. The platform has actually been bleeding users in the past couple of weeks, but maybe third-party developers can help to make the platform more usable, which is really how Twitter also became more popular in the first place.