Elon Musk Backtracks on Twitter’s Free API Withdrawal

Despite Musk stating that Twitter would remove free access to its API, the decision has, mostly, been reversed.

Elon Musk has backtracked on his decision to cut free access to Twitter’s API, just days before the new rule was expected to come into play.

The decision, announced on Twitter, follows a week of extreme online backlash, following Elon Musk’s attempts to further monetize the social media platform.

Some expect that Musk will find other ways to add revenue to Twitter in the near future, with recent innovations, such as paid-for subscriptions, currently only being taken up by just 0.2% of its active community.

Twitter Free API to Stay, But Only for The ‘Good’ Bots

After shutting down third-party clients, like Tweetbot and Twitterrific , Musk announced that developers would have to pay a subscription fee of $100 per month to use Twitter’s API, starting on February 9th.

However, the controversial CEO has reversed his decision, citing that a ‘light, write-only’ API for ‘good’ bots will be allowed to provide ‘good content’ for free, following a huge surge in online backlash.

The decision comes just days before the new rule was expected to come into effect, and will come as a great relief to fans of bot accounts like BigTechAlert, and to many developers, who also highlighted that researchers, students and data scientists would be impacted by the decision too. This isn’t the first time, however, that Elon’s bot-woes have led to Twitter indecision.

Elon Musk vs The Bots

In August 2020, Twitter released a free V2 API tier, designed to help Twitter users learn, teach or ‘build something for fun.’ However, since his notorious takeover, Musk claimed that the API was ‘being abused’ by bot scammers and spammers, which led to his decision to ban free access to online developers – before backtracking this week with a proposed alternative.

In 2022, the Tesla Tycoon accused Twitter of misleading regulators during his purchase – suggesting that its failure to present the information and data regarding spam and bot accounts requested for the purchase voided their contractual obligations. And, since taking over, removing bots has remained a high priority for the new Twitter owner who publicly vowed to ‘defeat the spam bots or die trying.’

Still, not all bot accounts on Twitter are spam, and given the speed of his change of heart, it didn’t take a lot of convincing. As Twitter users pointed out, a lot of the accounts that do autonomously post through the Twitter API, are a large part of what people on the platform enjoy most.

Twitter’s Search for Revenue

Plans to monetize Twitter are never far from Elon Musk’s mind, and if the past few months are anything to go by, we can expect more costly subscriptions and adverts. Rumours that Blue Subscribers will be able to show adverts in replies to share revenue with creators have been circling, but as far as we’re aware, nothing has been set in stone.

On top of subscriber fees, the company is reportedly looking to generate $1,000 per month from brands who want to keep their gold badges, and with free API now accessible, we’ve no doubt Musk will find an alternative way to add to Twitter’s growing profits. As of today, Twitter is reportedly ‘trending to break even’ but with  just 180,000 U.S subscribers, it still has a long way to go.

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Written by:
Jade Artry is the Content Manager for Tech.co. She has 13+ years experience in the digital marketing industry, covering a wealth of topics including travel, cyber security, social media, email marketing, business and emerging technologies. She's worked with brands including the Red Cross, Kayak, Virgin Atlantic and British Airways, and now uses her digital expertise to advise on the best tools to help grow your business.
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