Report: Twitter’s third-party client lockouts were intentional

If you are a social media power user, there are those times you wish the official apps did things a certain way, presented information in a certain format, had a few more features or did not have said features (including ads). These kinds of sentiments are what power third-party clients.

When using a third-party client for a social media platform like Twitter, you get access to everything Twitter has to offer without using the official Twitter application while getting the added benefits of the third-party client such as no ads, different home screen layouts and colour schemes among other benefits specific to the client you are using. Different clients offer different perks.

Now, just a few days ago, all the major third-party clients for Twitter including Twitterific and Tweetbot stopped working with no explanation or warning from Twitter. A new report from The Information claims that the “third-party app suspensions are intentional.”

Tweetbot users briefly got back access to their accounts after Paul Haddad, the co-creator, swapped out the app’s API keys, however, they had no ability to post. After a short while, they lost access to Twitter altogether when the new API keys were revoked. The result prompted Haddad to write on Mastodon that the result “proves that this was intentional and we and others were specifically targeted”

Despite Twitter not shutting down third-party clients for the longest time, they had asked developers to stop developing them as early as 2011 and even restricted their API, taking away push notifications and auto-refresh for non-official apps back in 2018.

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With third-party clients for Twitter now seemingly at the end of the road, ad revenue is being looked at as the likely motivation for the company pulling the rug on these clients.

As already mentioned, some of these clients offer an ad-free experience, meaning that Twitter is missing out on monetizing the thousands, possibly millions of people using third-party clients. By revoking their API keys, the hope is that a significant number of these users will go back to using the official applications rather than quitting the platform altogether.

Since Elon Musk took over Twitter, there have been rampant and sudden changes, including massive lay-offs as he struggles to make the platform profitable. This latest move has most likely been done with the goal of increasing revenue. How this story pans out will be interesting to see, but Twitter has not yet put out an official statement regarding their decision to revoke access to its API.

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Naftaly is a Computer Science graduate with a passion for tech, video games and pop culture. When he is not writing articles for AndroidKenya, he is probably rewatching the Lord of the Rings trilogy for the hundredth time. Email at Twitter @KarisNaftaly