Twitter sets new guidelines for using its API

Krystal Peak · August 17, 2012 · Short URL: https://vator.tv/n/2962

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

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.

 

Read more from our "Trends and news" series

More episodes

Related Companies, Investors, and Entrepreneurs

Twitter

Startup/Business

Joined Vator on

What is Twitter?

Twitter is an online information network that allows anyone with an account to post 140 character messages, called tweets. It is free to sign up. Users then follow other accounts which they are interested in, and view the tweets of everyone they follow in their "timeline." Most Twitter accounts are public, where one does not need to approve a request to follow, or need to follow back. This makes Twitter a powerful "one to many" broadcast platform where individuals, companies or organizations can reach millions of followers with a single message. Twitter is accessible from Twitter.com, our mobile website, SMS, our mobile apps for iPhone, Android, Blackberry, our iPad application, or 3rd party clients built by outside developers using our API. Twitter accounts can also be private, where the owner must approve follower requests. 

Where did the idea for Twitter come from?

Twitter started as an internal project within the podcasting company Odeo. Jack Dorsey, and engineer, had long been interested in status updates. Jack developed the idea, along with Biz Stone, and the first prototype was built in two weeks in March 2006 and launched publicly in August of 2006. The service grew popular very quickly and it soon made sense for Twitter to move outside of Odea. In May 2007, Twitter Inc was founded.

How is Twitter built?

Our engineering team works with a web application framework called Ruby on Rails. We all work on Apple computers except for testing purposes. 

We built Twitter using Ruby on Rails because it allows us to work quickly and easily--our team likes to deploy features and changes multiple times per day. Rails provides skeleton code frameworks so we don't have to re-invent the wheel every time we want to add something simple like a sign in form or a picture upload feature.

How do you make money from Twitter?

There are a few ways that Twitter makes money. We have licensing deals in place with Google, Yahoo!, and Microsoft's Bing to give them access to the "firehose" - a stream of tweets so that they can more easily incorporate those tweets into their search results.

In Summer 2010, we launched our Promoted Tweets product. Promoted Tweets are a special kind of tweet which appear at the top of search results within Twitter.com, if a company has bid on that keyword. Unlike search results in search engines, Promoted Tweets are normal tweets from a business, so they are as interactive as any other tweet - you can @reply, favorite or retweet a Promoted Tweet. 

At the same time, we launched Promoted Trends, where companies can place a trend (clearly marked Promoted) within Twitter's Trending Topics. These are especially effective for upcoming launches, like a movie or album release.

Lastly, we started a Twitter account called @earlybird where we partner with other companies to provide users with a special, short-term deal. For example, we partnered with Virgin America for a special day of fares on Virginamerica.com that were only accessible through the link in the @earlybird tweet.

 

What's next for Twitter?

We continue to focus on building a product that provides value for users. 

We're building Twitter, Inc into a successful, revenue-generating company that attracts world-class talent with an inspiring culture and attitude towards doing business.