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Our more eagle-eyed regulars may have noticed a slight change on our website this week.
Our Twitter feed has suddenly and, rather unexpectedly, taken flight.
It wasn’t a conscious decision on our part. Only “Premium Twitter” users who have opted for a $100-a-month fee currently have access to functional feeds.
At present, there’s no further information regarding the restoration timeline for the non-premium version of the service or when feeds will be operational again – if at all.
What’s going on?
As it stands, we’re left in Twitter limbo.
Since buying Twitter for $44billion, CEO Elon Musk appears to have tried to shift more of the business towards charging for subscriptions and verifications.
And unless businesses start forking out up to $42,000 a month they can’t access the API, or backend interface.
Musk stated the move was aimed at scouring the micro-blogging platform of bots.
Here’s what he had to say:
From the horse’s mouth
“Yeah, free API is being abused badly right now by bot scammers and opinion manipulators,” he Tweeted in February. “There’s no verification process or cost, so easy to spin up to 100k bots to do bad things.
“Just $100/month for API access with ID verification will clean things up greatly.”
No-one expects anything for free these days.
But a minimum of $100 a month is a bitter pill to swallow for many, especially start-up businesses trying to keep outgoings to a minimum during a cost-of-living crisis.
Although Musk initially justified the API changes by saying the free services were being abused, it would be easy to see it as an attempt to squeeze more money out of the platform’s community. The move will also bar many researchers who analyse how misinformation and hate speech spreads on social media.
Good or bad?
And he is perhaps forgetting that many of Twitter’s API users are, in fact, providing free advertising for the platform.
A platform which is facing increasing competition – not least from new text-based app Threads, joined by 100 million people in its first five days alone.
Removing free API has been met with mixed views. Some say it will clean up the platform while others believe it’s just another money-making scheme that will have a massive impact on pulling data for research purposes.
Ironically, analysing the response on Twitter is a trend which will be much harder in the future thanks to this controversial change.