Elon Musk silent on Twitter API change that broke Tweetbot, others

Elon Musk silent on Twitter API change that broke Tweetbot, others

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Tweetbot, Twitteriffic, and other popular third-party clients for Twitter are still completely broken due to issues with Twitter’s API. Despite growing complaints from Twitter users and developers alike, Elon Musk has remained silent. This is leading some people to speculate that this change is intentional and that Twitter is shutting down third-party clients altogether.

Twitter API change breaks Tweetbot, others

As we reported overnight, Twitter’s official API for developers is almost entirely offline. This means that popular third-party Twitter apps like Twitteriffic and Tweetbot are completely broken. When you open Tweetbot, for example, you see an error message explaining that there was a “problem authenticating with Twitter.”

The Iconfactory, developers of Twitteriffic, is now directing users to a webpage explaining the outage when they open the app. “Something bad has happened at Twitter,” the warning explains.

Twitterrific users are currently unable to access the service via the iOS app. As of this writing we have heard nothing officially from Twitter and are trying to learn more. This may just be a temporary bug; it may be more a more serious issue.

As soon as we know more we’ll update this message. We thank you as always for your support and patience as we work through this problem.

Tapbots, the developers of Tweetbot, say:

Tweetbot and other clients are experiencing problems logging in to Twitter. We’ve reached out to Twitter for more details, but haven’t heard back. We’re hoping this is just a temporary glitch and will let you know more as soon as we know more.

A pop up in the Tweetbot app further explains:

At 7:30 PM PST on January 12th, access to Twitter from Tweetbot and many other 3rd party apps have stopped working. We’ve reached out to Twitter for more details, but as of yet have not heard anything back.

We hope that this is a temporary outage and will provide you with more details as soon as we get them.

As both companies point out, Twitter has not communicated with developers regarding this issue at all. Tweetbot developer Paul Haddad wrote on Mastodon last night:

I’m hoping that whatever is going on at Twitter is just some automated spam protection bot that is incorrectly suspending proper apps, or something similar.

Unfortunately I don’t have many contacts at Twitter anymore so doubt I’ll get any kind of definitive answer soon.

As of Friday afternoon, Haddad said that he still has not heard any news, “official or otherwise,” about what’s going on.

Meanwhile, podcaster and journalist Jason Snell says he’s heard “from someone who says someone at Twitter told them the API shutdown is absolutely intentional.” Ultimately, though, Snell says he has “no way to know if that’s legit or not.”

9to5Mac’s Take

There’s a real possibility that Elon Musk only recently learned that there’s an ecosystem of third-party Twitter apps out there. These apps use the official Twitter API and are (or were) sanctioned by Twitter. The apps don’t, however, show any advertisements on behalf of Twitter.

Regardless of Twitter’s reasoning, this is an awful situation, and, unsurprisingly, Twitter’s communication has been disastrous and cowardly. If the company was planning to make changes to the Twitter API, those changes should have been well-communicated to developers ahead of time.

Elon Musk has been active on Twitter today but has not addressed the API issue. The official account for the Twitter API is also silent. One speculation making the rounds is that Twitter has only cut off access to the API tier for developers that run on the API user count exemption with higher limits on user counts.

If this change is intentional, the timing is not at all surprising. Twitter redesigned its iOS app earlier this week with a new “For You” tab. This interface forces users into the algorithmic timeline by default, requiring a swipe to access the chronological feed. Third-party Twitter clients generally default to chronological feeds and usually don’t offer an algorithmic feed at all.

If this is an outage or technical issue, Twitter needs to address it immediately. The deafening silence is only making matters worse. There are developers who rely on the Twitter API for their livelihoods, companies who rely on the Twitter API itself or third-party Twitter apps powered by that API, and of course, users themselves.

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