Elon Musk says Twitter will let bots providing “good content” access the Twitter API for free. As noted in a post on Twitter, Musk announced that the platform will enable a “light, write-only” API for eligible bots — a partial reversal of his policy that puts API access behind a paywall.
After shutting down third-party clients, like Tweetbot and Twitterrific, Twitter announced last week that developers will need to sign up for a “paid basic tier” to access Twitter’s API starting on February 9th. At the time, Musk justified the move by saying that the free API is “being abused” by bot scammers and spammers, adding that an around $100 per month subscription “with ID verification” can “clean things up greatly.”
The move drew criticism from developers and Twitter users who create and use bots for a range of purposes. While some bots, like Make it a Quote and Color Schemer, exist solely for entertainment, others such as Pikaso, Remind Me of This Tweet, and Thread Reader provide useful functions on the site, including the ability to take screenshots, receive reminders for certain tweets, and read threads in a more organized layout. Many developers announced that they’ll be shuttering their bots ahead of the February 9th deadline.
But charging developers to access Twitter’s API also presents another money-making opportunity for the company, something Musk has prioritized since taking over. On top of the $8 per month Twitter’s charging users to stay verified, the company’s reportedly looking to squeeze $1,000 per month out of brands that want to keep their gold checkmarks on the platform.
Although it seems like Musk will allow some level of free access to Twitter’s API, many questions remain. We don’t know what he considers “good” content, and it’s unclear whether the policy will apply to bots created in the future or just the ones that exist now. Until Twitter makes an official announcement regarding the change, the future of bots on the site remains in limbo.