In this roundup, we will be investigating what is happening with the recent price changes to Twitter API and what the changes mean for academic researchers and developers. The new price changes weren’t unexpected. Musk has needed to turn Twitter into a viable, profit-making business, though some may think the way Musk is currently running Twitter is going to make it even more difficult to make a success of it.
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The Impact of Musk’s Twitter Takeover: Third-Party Developers Face New Costs and Restrictions on API Access
Since Musk officially took over Twitter in October 2022, Twitter stopped offering free access to its API on February 9, 2023. Third-party software developers who used to access API data to promote their own projects, like bots on the app, began having to use the API through a “paid basic tier.”
Musk has never been fond of bots; in July 2022, Musk tried to walk away from the acquisition process on account of there being too many bot accounts on Twitter. Before his acquisition of Twitter, Musk had a dispute with bot account owner Jack Sweeney, who created a bot to track Musk’s private jet movements. Less than two months after Musk took over Twitter, all of Sweeney’s bot accounts were suspended.
Now in March, further announcements have been made about the API costs to access Twitter’s data. Not only is there an increase in the cost to access Twitter’s data, but the new costs will be out of reach for most SME businesses to afford.
Limited Access to Twitter Data, Higher Costs for API Users
Twitter API pricing now has three tiers for developers wishing to access its data, with the lowest tier, the Small Package, providing access to 50 million tweets for $42,000 per month. The higher tiers offer larger volumes of tweets for increased prices. The media has been quick to comment that this new pricing structure is unaffordable for most developers.
New Twitter API Pricing May Hinder Research and Development
This new pricing could also potentially limit access to Twitter’s API for many researchers. Before, researchers used Twitter’s API a lot. Since 2022, over 17,500 academic papers were based on Twitter’s data. Researchers may find it harder to keep using Twitter data for their work because of the new prices.
Most API developers will also have to change how they access and use Twitter’s API in their apps because of this change in pricing. The limited access to Twitter’s data could make it harder to make new tools or features that use the platform’s data.
The New Twitter API Pricing: Potential Impacts on Apps Heavily Reliant on Twitter Data
Most likely, the new pricing will have the most effect on apps that depend heavily on Twitter’s API, especially those that need a lot of access to tweets and user data. Some examples of potentially affected apps include:
- Hashtagify.me: This app offers hashtag analytics and helps users find the best hashtags for their content. With the new API pricing, apps like Hashtagify.me may face difficulties in accessing a larger volume of tweets, which could impact the quality of its hashtag analysis.
- TrendsMap: TrendsMap shows real-time trending topics and hashtags on a map, allowing users to see what’s popular in specific locations. The new pricing may make it harder for apps like TrendsMap to get data from Twitter, which could make it harder for such apps to show accurate and up-to-date trends.
- Social media monitoring and analytics tools (e.g., Hootsuite, Sprout Social, and TweetDeck): These tools help businesses and individuals manage their social media presence, schedule posts, and analyze performance. The new API pricing could make it harder for them to access Twitter data, which could make their analytics and monitoring tools less useful.
- Research tools that use Twitter data: Any tool that uses Twitter data for research, like sentiment analysis, topic modeling, or influencer analysis, might have trouble getting enough data for their studies, which could affect their results and insights.
The Far-Reaching Implications of Twitter’s New Pricing Structure on Online Discourse Analysis and Research
The new pricing may affect not only academic research but also our understanding of how the internet works and the conversations that are taking place in the global public square. Twitter’s API has been a great way to learn about how people talk online, but the new pricing may make it harder for researchers, API developers, and app makers to access and analyze this valuable data. As a result, the new pricing structure could have far-reaching implications for both the academic and developer communities and may influence the future development of tools and research reliant on Twitter data. Developers will now have to think about whether they can pay the high fees to get the data they need and whether their app will make enough money to cover the cost.
The Possible Motivations Behind Twitter’s New Pricing Structure: Monetization and User Data Privacy
One possible reason for Twitter’s new pricing structure, which makes accessing its data less accessible to many businesses and researchers, could be an attempt to monetize its vast dataset more effectively. As a publicly-traded company, Twitter may be looking for ways to increase its revenue and provide value to its shareholders. By selling its API services to large businesses and organizations that can pay higher prices, the company could make a lot of money from them.
Another possible reason could be related to privacy concerns and data usage. With more people paying attention to how user data is accessed and used by third parties, Twitter might want to limit how many businesses and researchers can see its users’ data. By charging more for access, the company can have more control over how its data is used and accessed, making sure it follows privacy laws and keeps its users’ information safe. This strategy could also help Twitter keep a good public image by showing that it cares about user privacy.
Beyond the API: Exploring Twitter’s Partnership with the Library of Congress for Archiving Public Tweets
Interestingly, Twitter has an agreement with the Library of Congress under which every public tweet is archived there. This partnership began in 2010, and the Library of Congress has been collecting and storing tweets to create a digital archive for historical and research purposes. In 2017, the library announced that it would acquire tweets on a selective basis rather than archive all public tweets. It is possible that some tweets may be available for viewing through research requests or other means, but this information is not readily available; as of 2013 it was reported that there was no plan to publically display Tweets. Accessing this archive will not be as straightforward as it used to be to access Twitter’s API. The Library of Congress has said that their main goal is to make data available to researchers and scholars, but they haven’t said how to do that yet.
The Library of Congress does, however, provide a series of other APIs that allow developers to access information about their collections. The original purpose of the loc.gov JSON API was to power the loc.gov website. Its purpose is to give structured data about the Library of Congress collections. The Library of Congress also has a GitHub repository with various projects, including an API for congress.gov. In 2022, the Library of Congress launched the Congress.gov API, which provides access to legislative data.
Maybe at some point the Congress Library’s archived collection of Tweets will become available to developers; until then you can expect to pay a significant amount of money to have access to Twitter data.
Proceed with Caution: The Risks and Considerations for App Developers Building Business Models Around Social Media APIs
As an app developer, there is a clear warning to be careful about basing your business model around Twitter or other social media APIs, as the new pricing structures and API access restrictions could significantly impact the viability and profitability of such businesses. Instead, developers may need to find other ways to get data or make money from their apps and services if they want them to last in the long run. This shows how important it is to have different ways to make money and keep up with the latest changes and trends in social media.