Twitter Confirms Third-Party Apps Like Tweetbot Were Intentionally Blocked
Third-party Twitter apps like Tweetbot and Twitterrific have been intentionally blocked from using Twitter APIs, Twitter confirmed today. Without access to the underlying code for the social network, Tweetbot, Twitterrific, Birdie, Echofon, and other popular Twitter clients are non-functional and cannot be used.
Twitter's Dev account today said in a tweet that Twitter is "enforcing its long-standing API rules," a change that could cause some apps not to work. There has been no word on which API rules the blocked Twitter clients have violated, and this is the first time that Twitter has provided insight into what's going on with third-party Twitter apps since they stopped working last Thursday.
When some third-party Twitter apps became unusable last week, it was initially believed that there could be some kind of bug causing the outage. Only the most popular Twitter clients were affected and blocked from Twitter's APIs, perhaps indicating an internal error. As Twitter declined to comment on the situation for days, however, it became clearer that it was an intentional decision. Over the weekend, The Information said that in an internal Slack channel, a senior software engineer at Twitter clarified that the suspensions were done on purpose, suggesting many Twitter employees were not even aware of what was going on.
It is not known why Twitter has provided so little information on what is happening to highly popular third-party Twitter apps that have existed for years, nor if these apps will again be provided with access to the API if changes are made. Developers like Iconfactory and Tapbots (responsible for Twitterrific and Tweetbot, respectively), received no warning about the shutdown and were not provided with information on why their apps stopped working.
Apps like Tweetbot have been around for more than a decade at this point, with loyal users, full teams of developers, and a major investment in the social network. Developers have expressed their frustration at Twitter's decision and lack of communication, as have longtime Twitter users.
MacStories, for example, called Twitter's actions "disgraceful" and "unprofessional," with Twitter demonstrating a "total lack of respect" for the role that third-party apps have played in the success of the social network.
Jason Snell called Twitter's actions "clueless, classless, and cowardly," and John Gruber said this is likely the end of his regular usage of Twitter as Twitter's own client is "terrible."
At this point, it isn't clear when or if we're going to get more information about third-party Twitter clients from Twitter, nor if the apps that have had their API access revoked will be back in some capacity. Tapbots is now speeding up development on Ivory, its app for the Mastodon social network, and Twitterrific's Craig Hockenberry said that he will be exploring the concept of a truly universal timeline that leverages how open standards can be used in "new and different ways."