Twitterbot and Twitterrific are down, and Twitter hasn't said a peep about it
Twitter hasn't acknowledged the problem
➡️ The Shortcut Skinny: These broken wings
🦤 3rd party Twitter apps have been down for about 12 hours
🤔 Some believe Twitter is intentionally banning 3rd party clients
🤷 Less-popular clients seem to be working fine
🐞 Could be a bug, but Twitter shut down 3rd party tools in December
📉 With ad revenue down, Twitter trying needs creativity to raise money
Starting around 11:30pm EST, Twitter users began reporting that popular third-party Twitter client apps like Twitterbot and Twitterrific on both iOS and Android platforms were down. In the absence of an explanation given by Twitter itself, speculation about why is rampant, mostly centered around the possibility that the company is shutting out third parties to prevent users from circumnavigating its features and advertising.
The speculation is understandable. Programs aimed at third-party developers, like Twitter Toolbox, have been shut down by the social media company over the last month or so, prompting concerns among app makers that Twitter was preparing to cut them off from accessing its services.
Other efforts aimed at aiding third-party developers have been shut down as well, such as the so-called Twitter Tiles feature that allowed for automatic formatting of links and images in outside apps, much as they do in the first-party client and on the web.
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It could be a bug
There are some indications that the shut-out is just a bug. The iOS version of Fenix and both versions of Albatross still function, for example, and there are reports by Twitter users that others do, as well. If service was only cut off for the most popular apps, it would imply they were specifically targeted, which at least one of the developers suspects, and would be an interesting development, if so.
Moreover, third-party apps likely account for an insignificant portion of the service’s users. I wasn’t able to find recent reporting on this, but as of 2018, only about 6 million people were said to even have unofficial client apps installed, and that’s to say nothing of how many actually use them. Even if that number doubled to 12 million since, it’s barely a drop in the bucket for a social network hosting almost 400 million users (even if some are bots).
Chasing the almighty dollar
Twitter has gone through a glut of changes since Elon Musk outlined his vision for the platform after his October purchase of it. He quickly cut its workforce in half, with some of the layoffs affecting entire teams former employees said were crucial to the service’s operational health.
Widespread outages briefly occurred after Twitter closed its Seattle office and downsized its Atlanta-based servers, part of ongoing cost-saving measures by the company that have included not paying rent at several of the locations hosting its infrastructure.
Though many of the doomsday scenarios that have been predicted haven’t so far come to fruition, one thing is certain: with Twitter ad business down, the company needs to shore up its revenue in any way it can. The rumor that it is considering selling high-value, dormant usernames, if true, feels especially desperate, while disallowing third-party clients that don’t show the advertisements it sells feels much more reasonable, even if it’s distasteful to the users to prize them.