Twitter has sparked controversy with the announcement of upcoming changes to their API, which may restrict 3rd-party applications such as Hootsuite, Twitterific and Tweetbot. In addition to mandating how tweets must be displayed, Twitter is also cutting off anonymous calls to their API and limiting user authentication tokens.
Currently, certain Twitter API calls don’t require applications to authenticate before accessing certain API endpoints. Originally, this freedom was essential for Twitter’s rapid growth, allowing developers to innovate and create a plethora of applications, many of which Twitter would have never thought of themselves, but has since cause a burden of spam and scraper bots. Forcing developers to register with Twitter would allow these types of abuse to stop.
Additionally, Twitter will be limiting the user authentication tokens for apps, which will limit the number of users an application can support. This means that many new Twitter applications will be unable to support more than 100,000 users, severely capping growth potential. Applications that already have over 100,000 users will only be able to grow by 200% of their current number, then they’ll be cut-off as well.
This new version of the API will be released in the upcoming weeks, and developers must make the switch by March of 2013. Anyone who does not upgrade from the current version 1.0 to the new 1.1 by that date will be blocked from accessing Twitter’s information.
Twitter is making an effort to limit traditional Twitter clients, favoring social analytics and business functionality apps. Twitter says that applications who want to go over their limit can ask for “permission,” but it remains to be seen how strict Twitter will be with their new rules. Developers worry that these new restrictions will stifle innovation and hurt the twitter ecosystem.