In an effort to protect its platform from spam and abuse, Twitter today unveiled a number of changes to the way developers will request and obtain access to Twitter's APIs.
First, Twitter is requiring that all requests for access to Twitter's standard and premium APIs go through the developer account application process it first launched in November. Under this process, developers are required to provide detailed information about how they intend to use Twitter's API.
Armed with this information, Twitter will evaluate the use cases and perform policy compliance checks. In cases where developers provide incomplete or insufficient information, further information will be requested. Applications that Twitter determines do not comply with its policies will be rejected.
Once an application is approved, developers will be able to create and manage apps on Twitter's new developer portal at developer.twitter.com. But that's not the end of the story for developers. Twitter says that developers may be forced to undergo "additional, more rigorous" policy reviews if they change the way their apps use Twitter's APIs or if they request access to additional features, such as the ability to post content to Twitter at higher volumes.
Starting in September, Twitter will begin applying default app-level rate limits to API requests involving the posting of Tweets, Retweets, likes, follows and Direct Messages. Specifically, across all of its users, apps will be limited to 300 combined Tweets and Retweets per 3 hours, 1,000 likes and follows per 24 hours, and 15,000 Direct Messages per 24 hours.
By Twitter's own admission "This change represents a significant decrease in the existing rate of POST activity allowed from a single app by default," but the company is telling developers that it will allow policy-compliant developers to maintain existing limits and request higher limits with a valid need.
A New World
While Twitter's changes are likely to irritate some developers and complicate the company's efforts to rebuild trust with developers, thanks to Facebook's Cambridge Analytica scandal and increased scrutiny over privacy, data security and the spread of fake news, large platform providers like Twitter realistically can't maintain the status quo; they have to make big changes.
According to Twitter, "We are taking these steps to protect accounts while we work toward that goal and determine how best to balance holding developers accountable to our policies with helping developers get started easily." The company is acknowledging that while "this new process adds extra steps and time to get started with development", it is aiming to minimize friction.
To that end, Twitter is proactively conducting policy reviews of apps that might be affected by its upcoming changes and says it will contact developers in an effort to ensure that their apps aren't negatively impacted come September. It says it will also be more proactive in contacting developers whose apps are approaching rate limits and whose apps might be out of compliance with the company's policies.