Twitter has released a new API which it wants developers to use to build helpful bots and more powerful third-party apps.
According to a post on the Twitter Developer Blog, the new API will no longer take “a one-size-fits-all approach” and will be “more flexible and scalable to fit your needs.”
What that means in practice is Twitter’s API now includes three access levels: the free basic level, elevated, and custom. Developers will no longer have to transfer APIs as their products grow, between what was essentially three separate platforms previously.
New features have been added based on developers’ requests. Among the additions are “conversation threading, poll results in Tweets, pinned Tweets on profiles, spam filtering, and a more powerful stream filtering and search query language.”
Most interestingly, Twitter is actively encouraging the development of bots for things like spreading factual information about COVID-19.
Alyssa Resse, Product Designer at Twitter, said:
“Our aim is to be a company that other developer platforms reference when they are looking for inspiration (and we know we have a way to go).
We know that it takes hard work to reach that level of excellence and that it starts and ends with listening to you, and acting upon your feedback.”
Twitter initially planned to launch the new API on July 16th but was forced to delay after a security incident it discovered the day before.
A shaky relationship
Developers have had a shaky relationship with Twitter. The platform once had a thriving developer community behind it, but many abandoned the social media giant after Twitter began putting severe limitations on third-party software.
One of the most controversial decisions Twitter made was to limit the number of active “tokens” any one app can have – essentially limiting how successful a third-party app can become. Rate limits for things such as retweets and likes were just added frustrations designed to push users towards Twitter’s own app.
Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey returned to the helm of the company in 2015 after stepping down as CEO in 2008. During the Twitter Flight conference in 2015, Dorsey made a bold promise to developers.
“Somewhere along the line, our relationship with developers got complicated, confusing, unpredictable,” said Dorsey. “We want to apologise, reboot, have a great relationship with developers. Open, honest, and fulfilling.”
“Twitter stands for something; for freedom of expression. We will not rest until that is recognised as a global fundamental human right. Twitter encourages dialogue that the world needs to see, and that the world needs to have, and we need to have a better conversation with the developer community. We can’t stand alone. We need your help.”
At the time, Dorsey was mulling Twitter’s importance after a certain #blacklivesmatter movement took off on the platform. Such conversations need to be had to move forward, and Twitter wants to be the place for it.
However, conversations on Twitter aren’t exactly always productive though. Worse still, there’s increasing use of bots to sow chaos and/or influence public opinion in things like elections.
Fact-checking will be vital, but proving its impartiality is difficult yet necessary to build any form of trust. Of course, you’ve also got certain politicians wanting to control what’s shared on social networks so fabrications can’t be called out and any opposing views cannot gain traction.
Dorsey is among the most prominent advocates of decentralised technologies such as Bitcoin. With politicians looking to stifle free speech on centralised platforms such as Twitter and Facebook, there’s rumours that Dorsey may even launch a decentralised Twitter.
There are gargantuan problems to address with social media today, and Twitter needs developers to help address them. It’s clear Dorsey is finally making good on his promise and attempting to rebuild the bridges it burned down.
You can get started with Twitter’s new API here.
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