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Twitter tightens grip on developers with new API restrictions

Fed up with third-party Twitter apps stealing its thunder, Twitter introduced a litany of new rules Thursday as it unveiled upcoming changes to version 1.1 of its API. Or, as developers are likely to view them, upcoming and unwelcome restrictions.

Targeting customer-facing applications, like Tweetbot, Twitter is clamping down on developers of these apps particularly while encouraging development of analytics apps, Social CRM apps and other apps that, at their core, aren’t consumer facing.

Foremost among the API updates is a limit of 100,000 users. If a developer’s already at the limit, Twitter will let them double the figure but won’t allow growth after that. Any one looking to reach beyond the 100,000 user limit will need Twitter permission to do so.

Changes like this make it seem as though Twitter wants to tighten the leash on developers by extending user limits – among other restrictions – that force developers to “come to Twitter.”

The changes are expected to roll out over the next few weeks.

While developers have known these updates were coming for awhile, it wasn’t exactly clear what Twitter had in mind until the announcement was made on Twitter’s developers blog.

Playing Big Brother

In addition to the user limits, developers now need authentication from Twitter to access the API. Every time a developer wants access, they’ll need Twitter’s direct approval.

The site’s also limiting the number of API calls that can be made in an hour. While it may keep spam from building up, where once information was easily accessible, it now forces anyone who’s looking for realtime analytics to work more closely with the site.

In an ominous move, “Display Guidelines” are now called “Display Requirements,” to ensure “customers have a consistent experience wherever they see and interact with Tweets.” The requirements will also make their way onto mobile applications.

Currently, those requirements include linking “@usernames” with the appropriate Twitter profile, displaying “appropriate Twee actions (e.g. Retweet, reply and favorite” and “scaling display of Tweet appropriately based on the device.”

“If your application displays Tweets to users, and it doesn’t adhere to our Display Requirements, we reserve the right to revoke your application key,”

There’s more…

Developers who’re building client applications that are pre-installed on mobile devices will need to have their application certified by Twitter before the application ships.

Among the changes minutiae, anyone who needs more than one million user tokens is required to “work with [Twitter] directly.”

From the day the new API is release, developers will have six months to come into compliance. Once there, just what Twitter plans to do with those who don’t comply should come into focus.

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Twitter tightens grip on developers with new API restrictions


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