Twitter has announced that the company has reached an agreement with the Sunlight Foundation and Open State Foundation that will allow Politwoops to be back up and running in the near future. In June of last year, Twitter shut down API access for the U.S. Politwoops site telling the Sunlight Foundation that the Politwoops service "violates our API Terms of Service on a fundamental level." In August, Twitter suspended API access to all of the remaining Politwoops websites located in 30 countries around the world.
Launched in 2012, Politwoops is a service that monitors politicians Twitter accounts and uses the Twitter API to collect and display any tweets that may be deleted by the users. When senators, governors, house representatives, and other politicians delete a tweet, Politwoops is alerted and posts the deleted tweets on the Politwoops website. When Twitter made the decision to shut down API access to Politwoops, there was a lot of criticism from the open data and developer communities. Politwoops is considered by many to be an important service that holds politicians accountable for the statements they make from their Twitter accounts.
Twitter has had a rocky history when it comes to developers and access to the Twitter API. Twitter began restricting API access back in 2012, gradually changing the rules and increasing API restrictions over the next few years. Twitter has received a lot of criticism over the years from developers regarding Twitter API changes. Some developers argue that overly restrictive API policies kill innovation causing an open platform to become a monoculture.
Twitter seems to be reversing course when it comes to developers and Twitter API access. In July 2015, Twitter founder Evan Williams stated at the Fortune Brainstorm Tech conference that the company made a strategic error when it comes to the Twitter API. In October 2015, co-founder Jack Dorsey stated at the Twitter Flight 2015 mobile developer conference that Twitter wanted to "apologize, reboot, have a great relationship with developers."
Reinstating Twitter API access for Politwoops may be one of the steps demonstrating Twitter's intention to improve its relationship with developers. The Sunlight Foundation is currently working on getting Politwoops back up and running possibly within the next few weeks.