Twitter Rolls Out New API, Revokes Access to Other Sites
What this means for developers and users alike.
Web2Carz Contributing Writer
Published: August 28th, 2012
The API changes put a lot of roadblocks in place for developers who were hoping to tie their services in with Twitter.
he last time we checked to see which of our Twitter friends were on Tumblr and Instagram, we were met with a notice saying that due to Twitter's new API rules, we were no longer able to search through Twitter to find buddies. The new rules crack down on developer access, requiring more frequent authentication and a limit on requests—two things that are supposed to protect the value of Twitter's data. So what does this really mean, in non-tech terms?
For starters, Twitter restricted the search function, and people can no longer find their Twitter friends on other applications, like Tumblr, Instagram, and LinkedIn. But tracking back a bit further: what the heck is an API? An API is basically an interface for software to communicate with other software (for instance, an app communicating with another app to draw users together). Now, the changes in the API have put a limit on how third-party apps (like Tumblr) can interact with Twitter.
All apps now have to be approved by Twitter before pre-installation (that is, before users are allowed to use the services offered—for example, Instagram has to get permission from Twitter before it offers the "search for your Twitter friends" option to Instagram users. Follow? Additionally, apps have to continually check in with Twitter regarding growth. That means that if Tumblr suddenly had 200 percent more users, it would have to check with Twitter to make sure it's okay to add API interactivity for those additional users. Basically, this puts a lot of roadblocks in place for developers that were hoping to tie their service in with Twitter.
So why did Twitter do it?
The changes make it easier for Twitter to manage its publishing, but some say that the changes are nothing more than a power grab. One developer, Aaron Levie, tweeted (how ironic), "Twitter's API has more rules than North Korea."
Twitter's product team director Michael Sippey wrote a blog post defending the changes, stating, "To prevent malicious use of the Twitter API and gain understanding of what type of applications are accessing the API in order to evolve it and meet the needs of developers, it's important to have visibility into the activity on the Twitter API and the applications using the platform."
In simpler terms, Twitter wants to make sure that their software isn't being taken advantage of by third-party developers. Except now, apps won't get anything in return when users tweet about their services—when you post a photo from Instagram to your Twitter page, Instagram gets nothing. And when you cross post a tweet to Tumblr, Tumblr doesn't get anything either.
The new provisions have many developers up in arms, using the hashtag #OccupyTwitter to protest the changes, and some say that the changes have alienated and soured relationships with services that were once successful with Twitter. Some developers are going so far as to shut down or reduce their work with Twitter. While we understand that Twitter may want more power in choosing who gets to use their service, it seems a little back-stabby to put such harsh restrictions on the very people who helped and continue helping Twitter gain popularity.