Twitter rethinks developer platform limits and policy to get people to improve its service

Twitter API v2

Microblogging/networking service Twitter has announced version 2 of its API ready for general use, reworked its developer programme, and now offers additional access levels in hopes of finding more people interested in helping improve “the health and safety of the public conversation”.

Version 2 of the API was first announced in August 2020 as a complete rewrite of the interface, making it the biggest change to the component since the release of v1.1 in 2012. Compared to its predecessors, it is said to be easier to use, offer more options to customise returns with fields, and incorporate more endpoints. 

Developers are provided access to newer features such as the live audio conversation component Spaces, reply hiding, and functionalities to create polls, image tagging, and make sure data is stored in compliance with Twitter’s rules.

Along with the release of v2 of the API comes the introduction of new access levels. While developers had to choose between the free standard and paid-for premium and enterprise offers before, they now have two free options meant to help them get started or level up. Developers without an approved developer account can now sign up for essential access, which provides them with the ability to retrieve up to 500K tweets per month, access Twitter API v2 endpoints, and use five filtered stream endpoint rules from one app environment.

Those already on the dev programme will meanwhile be upgraded to elevated access level, which allows for the retrieval of two million tweets per month for three environments, the option of using up to 25 rules with filtered streams, and access to team functionalities. Programmers wanting elevated access who haven’t worked with the API before are free to apply.

Another level called Elevated+ is currently in the works and promises to grant up to 10 million tweets per month. Coming up, Twitter also looks to include “opportunities for developers to monetise their innovation in the future”.

Upgrade guides to move from older versions of the API are available, because changes to the data format and what is returned by default mean some work will be necessary in order to make use of new endpoints and capabilities. The company however promises “90% of all existing apps built on the Twitter API v1.1 can be fully supported on v2”.

In order to get more people interested in the API, Twitter reworked its developer policies and “removed terms that restricted replication of the Twitter experience, including Twitter’s core features as well as terms that required permission to have high numbers of user tokens”.

According to Twitter’s announcements, the changes are especially meant to encourage “new innovation and growth around a few areas that we believe can have the greatest impact on the world”. That includes the “health and safety of the public conversation,” the public good, and content curation. The company also pointed out a couple of tools built with its API that already fit the bill — although many users surely would have loved to see Twitter tackling issues like filtering “unwanted spam or hate” itself instead of outsourcing the task.