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Here’s Why Your Third Party Twitter Client Broke Today

Every major third party Twitter client basically broke today, with key features like realtime updates, push notifications, and stats no longer working. Twitter caused the change themselves by shutting down some key APIs.

RELATED: What Is an API?

Tweetbot, Talon, and Twitterific are all prominent examples of third party Twitter apps. Some apps, including Tweetbot, issued updates today that are working, albeit without several key features. So there’s a chance you can keep using your client if you update—it just won’t have as many features.

Twitter basically wouldn’t exist without apps like these, which were built by people outside the company and spearheaded a lot of the features that are today core to the service.

And today Twitter shut down a few key APIs that made such applications possible. Why? Here’s Sarah Perez, writing for Tech Crunch:

In a company email it shared today, Twitter cited “technical and business constraints” that it can no longer ignore as being the reason behind the APIs’ shutdown.

It said the clients relied on “legacy technology” that was still in a “beta state” after more than 9 years, and had to be killed “out of operational necessity.”

This reads like passing the buck. Big time.

It’s not as if there’s some other mysterious force that maintains Twitter’s API platform, and now poor ol’ Twitter is forced to shut down old technology because there’s simply no other recourse. No.

I agree. Twitter could have fixed these APIs a long time ago, but they chose not to. They want the third party apps to get worse so more people will use the first party ones.

The problem: third party apps give users the clean, algorithm-free experience they actually want. Here’s John Gruber, writing for Daring Fireball:

Tweetbot presents tweets and replies/mentions in a way that fits my mental model of what Twitter is. Tweetbot makes sense to me — in large part simply because it presents tweets in chronological order. Twitter’s iOS app does none of these things for me. I truly find it confusing. And Twitter no longer even…has a first-party native app for the Mac. I don’t want to use a website for Twitter. I want an app.

I think this is a dumb decision, and that a lot of prominent Twitter users are going to disappear in the weeks to come because of it. It’s a shame, really, because Twitter could have learned a lot from these clients, which made the site a lot better to use.

Justin Pot Justin Pot
Justin Pot has been writing about technology for over a decade, with work appearing in Digital Trends, The Next Web, Lifehacker, MakeUseOf, and the Zapier Blog. He also runs the Hillsboro Signal, a volunteer-driven local news outlet he founded.
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