Twitter API Adds Retweet Count and More

Twitter recently added more data to each tweet it returns via the API. Now your applications can access the number of retweets, whether you have retweeted a tweet and additional information about the user who wrote the tweet. The new information used to require subsequent calls to the Twitter API, or perhaps looking up a cached value from your own database.

Twitter Developer Advocate Matt Harris announced the four new data fields on the Twitter developer mailing list. The fields include:

  • statuses/retweet_count (integer) - number of times a status has been retweeted using the Twitter retweet action. May not exist for older Tweets, or when this feature is disabled (see below).
  • statuses/retweeted (boolean) - true if the user you are authenticating as has retweeted this status.
  • users/listed_count (integer) - number of public lists in which the user appears.
  • users/follow_request_sent (boolean) - true if the user you are authenticating as has requested to follow the user you are viewing.

Unfortunately, some bugs were identified in retweet_count and that feature has been disabled for now.  Because Twitter sometimes turns features off to maintain site stability, it recommends that you always write your app code to handle missing fields or empty values.

All these new fields also exist in the Twitter Streaming API, except for the retweeted count, which has no meaning in that context.  The Twitter Search API does not support the new fields.

One more change: the users/showmethod was changed to return an HTTP 403 error (instead of 404) when an account has been suspended.  This change was made in response to users who wanted to distinguish between deleted and suspended accounts.  Calling users/showon a suspended user will return the error message "User has been suspended," which indicates the account still exists on Twitter.  Deleted accounts will return "Not found."

Complete Documentation should be available soon at

Hat tip: Damon Cortesi

Be sure to read the next Data article: Facebook's Big Year: A Whole New Approach to its API, New Types of User Data, and Major Deprecations