Public services will get free API access again, Twitter saysReading Time: 2 minutes
Good news from Twitter: It’s not implementing one of its bad ideas.
Elon Musk has made a lot of controversial decisions at Twitter since taking over. But, perhaps none were more roundly criticized then the decision to cut-off important public service and safety accounts from Twitter’s API, unless they paid for its new exorbitant Enterprise pricing.
On Tuesday, however, Twitter appears to have changed its mind.
‘One of the most important use cases for the Twitter API has always been public utility,’ the official Twitter account @TwitterDev tweeted. ‘Verified gov or publicly owned services who tweet weather alerts, transport updates and emergency notifications may use the API, for these critical purposes, for free.’
The decision to carve out exceptions for important accounts that have recently been cut off from Twitter’s API is certainly a welcome one. Twitter’s original hardline stance was that everyone who wanted to use its API – beyond the small $100 ‘hobbyist’ plan – had to pay for an Enterprise plan, which starts at $42,000 per month.
Twitter’s new API plans led to hundreds of indie developers being forced to shut down their Twitter-based apps over the past month. And, as a direct result, emergency weather alert accounts run by the National Weather Service (NWS) and public transit alert accounts such as the MTA’s NYC Subway accounts announced they would no longer be able to provide their crucial, automated, up-to-the-minute alert services on Twitter.
Cutting off the NWS and MTA appeared to receive more blowback from users than any of Twitter’s other recent unpopular moves. For one, these types of accounts have always played an important role in Twitter’s ecosystem since the earliest days of the platform, helping cement Twitter as a place for breaking news updates.
Many of the details are still unclear, however. For example, when Twitter says ‘verified,’ does it mean the agency just needs to prove the account is theirs, or do they require an official verified account on Twitter? And, a since deleted tweet from the MTA-run NYC Subway account made it clear that they have not even been informed of the change over at Twitter yet:
News that comes as a welcome surprise is increasingly rare for Twitter, making this announcement a refreshing change of pace, even if it is just the reversal of a seemingly ill-advised prior announcement.
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