Twitter sets new guidelines for using its API

Mimicking services like Tweetbot should be ready to get choked out by Twitter in 'coming weeks'

Technology trends and news by Krystal Peak
August 17, 2012
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Twitter has been getting quite choosey with its third-party information lately, and a new detailed guideline released late Thursday spells out that going forward, it isn’t going to shut off applications that it doesn’t like, but it will restrict their access to new users.

The new guide explained the lower rate limits, authentication, and certification requirements it was putting in place for those using its service and said it will require that large application get direct approval from the company before activating. 

What happens if a developer uses the Twitter information for an app or tool on their site without this clearance, it looks like Twitter could just shut off the information running to the company.

But there is some time to work out the kinks and clear up and confusion since Twitter won’t enforce its crackdown until an app using its service doubles its user base.

Going forward, applications that have more at least 100,000 users will have to work directly with Twitter on their product, policies and service agreement. Those that already have more than 100,000 user can only grow to 200% of their current size before they will contact Twitter.

Recently, Twitter dropped LinkedIn from its application extension family because Twitter felt that LinkedIn was using its information and service as a main source of its traffic numbers and growth.

Twitter VP of Product Michael Sippey laid out which types of applications Twitter likes, in a blog post. He pointed to “traditional Twitter clients” such as Tweetbot and Echofon and problem children that Twitter was not happy with. Essentially, Twitter is saying that if their service is a major component of your business, brace your self for some serious change.

The post also clarified some user-limits:

Right now, in version 1.0 of the Twitter API we limit the number of authenticated requests applications can make to 350 calls per hour, regardless of the type of information the application was requesting. This "one size fits all" approach has limited our ability to provide developers more access to endpoints that are frequently requested by applications, while continuing to prevent abuse of Twitter's resources.

In version 1.1, we will provide per-endpoint rate limiting on the API. While an application that only accesses one endpoint may be more restricted, applications that use multiple endpoints will run into rate limiting issues less frequently.

Most individual API endpoints will be rate limited at 60 calls per hour per-endpoint. Based on analysis of current use of our API, this rate limit will be well above the needs of most applications built against the Twitter API, while protecting our systems from abusive applications.

So, developers prepare to place your service into one of these four quadrants and if your business looks like the upper right corner, then prepare for some serious bottlenecking because Twitter considers your service a mimicing site and subject to serious change.

Few are surprised that Twitter is taking a stand against others using a constant stream of information from their service. 

Developers around the world have been expecting this show to drop for several months now and in order to balance out the hits, Twitter is also picking a few high-profile approved partners like the New York Times and Nike to participate in its new API, Twitter 1.1, which should be out very shortly.

Sippey said that the changes he described would go into effect “in the coming weeks” and we are sure to see some of the more Twitter-centric service scramble and pivot.


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