Twitter sets new API access rules after removing 143,000 apps

Twitter announced on Tuesday, July 24 that it had eliminated greater than 143,000 apps from the messaging service since April in a recent crackdown on “malicious” exercise from automated accounts.

According to AFP, the San Francisco-based social network said it was tightening access to its application programming interfaces (APIs) that allows developers to make automated Twitter posts.

“We’re committed to providing access to our platform to developers whose products and services make Twitter a better place,” said Twitter senior product management director Rob Johnson.

“However, recognising the challenges facing Twitter and the public from spam and malicious automation to surveillance and invasions of privacy — we’re taking additional steps to ensure that our developer platform works in service of the overall health of conversation on Twitter.”

Johnson offered no details on the revoked apps, but Twitter has been under pressure over automated accounts or “bots” which spread misinformation or falsely amplify a person or political cause.

“We do not tolerate the use of our APIs to produce spam, manipulate conversations, or invade the privacy of people using Twitter,” he said.

“We’re continuing to invest in building out improved tools and processes to help us stop malicious apps faster and more efficiently.”

As of Tuesday, any developer seeking access to create a Twitter app will have to go through a new application process, providing details of how they will use the service.

“We’re committed to supporting all developers who want to build high-quality, policy-compliant experiences using our developer platform and APIs, while reducing the impact of bad actors on our service,” Johnson said.

Automated accounts are not always malicious — some are designed to tweet our emergency alerts, art exhibits or the release of a Netflix program — but “bots” have been blamed for spreading hoaxes and misinformation in a bid to manipulate public opinion.

Existing app owners will be able to manage their product through, which could be retired in place of the new portal.

Developers will need to register complete details of their app to ensure API access, and under the new rules, they must notify Twitter of any changes in its use of APIs, or the need for additional services. Newly-registered developers will not be allowed to sign up more than 10 apps for these services.

Also, new apps will be bound to Twitter API limits on interactions, unless they are granted increased access. Currently, developers who sign up afresh will be limited to 300 tweets and retweets every 3 hours, as well as 1,000 likes, 1,000 follows, and 15,000 direct messages per day.

As Twitter continues to review its API rules, it will allow users to report suspected violations of API policy. Through the ‘Report a Bad app’ option in the Help Desk, users can seek to get apps checked for their API behaviour.

Recently, the company had also revealed that 58 million accounts had been suspended between October and December last year.

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Gbenga Ajao
Gbenga Ajao is a journalist. He has garnered experience in print, electronic and new media. He is passionate about mobile and web technology.

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