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Twitter finally confirms it’s behind outage of third-party Twitter apps

Twitter has finally confirmed what everyone pretty much already knew — that it’s behind the outage of popular third-party Twitter clients such as Tweetbot and Twitterrific.

In a message posted on its Twitter Dev account for developers, the company said: “Twitter is enforcing its long-standing API rules. That may result in some apps not working.” But it declined to offer any details about what API rules the developers of the third-party apps have violated.

Twitter is enforcing its long-standing API rules. That may result in some apps not working.

— Twitter Dev (@TwitterDev) January 17, 2023

Responding to the tweet, Tapbots, developer of Tweetbot, said that its app “has been around for over 10 years, we’ve always complied with the Twitter API rules. If there’s some existing rule that we need to comply with, we’d be happy to do so, if possible. But we do need to know what it is…@TwitterDev, you know how to reach us.”

Tweetbot has been around for over 10 years, we've always complied with the Twitter API rules.

If there's some existing rule that we need to comply with, we'd be happy to do so, if possible. But we do need to know what it is…@TwitterDev, you know how to reach us.

— Tapbots (@tapbots) January 17, 2023

Tweetbot, Twitterrific, and other similar apps suddenly stopped working last week, forcing users to either switch to the standard Twitter app or the Twitter-owned TweetDeck dashboard, or to simply give up using the social media platform.

Until Tuesday, Twitter had said nothing about the outage, leading some to think that a bug may have caused it. But as the issue persisted, suspicions grew that the block had been instigated by Twitter HQ, possibly on the order of the company’s new owner, Elon Musk.

This was pretty much confirmed on Saturday by The Information, which reported that it had viewed recent internal messages at Twitter, including one by a senior software engineer who described the outage as “intentional.”

The view appears to be that Musk is unhappy with the third-party Twitter apps as they don’t show Twitter ads, a situation that affects the company’s ability to boost its revenue — an ambition that its new owner has put front and center.

But the lack of clarity from Twitter is frustrating not only for the many people who have enjoyed using these apps for years but also for the developers, who have spent a great deal of time and effort refining the software, with no objection from Twitter until now.

It’s not clear what the developers can do to get accepted again, as Twitter hasn’t, at least publicly, offered any details about the nature of the apparent API violation.

Last month, Musk said, “transparency is the key to trust.” It’s what many are now hoping to get from him so that this current issue can be properly resolved.

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Trevor Mogg
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