Elon Musk destroyed the entire Twitter environment

Elon Musk destroyed the entire Twitter environment

The failure of several Twitter clients, like Tweetbot, Twitterific, and Fenix, doesn’t appear to be accidental. 3 days after the appearance of the “bug”, everything is in line with Elon Musk’s decision to increase Twitter’s advertising revenue, even if it means abandoning those who made the social network so successful.

Is the failure of applications that use the Twitter API really one? Since December 13, the tool that allows developers to access the social network and offer alternative functions, such as the synchronization of reading between different devices or the automatic creation of discussions, no longer works. However, when Elon Musk took over as head of Twitter in October 2022, the social network promised that it would not touch the API and that its partners could trust its new owner.

Two months later, everything suggests Elon Musk ordered his teams to kill applications that use Twitter, leaving to cause a collapse of the ecosystem that has greatly contributed to the success of the social network, without informing anyone upstream. In fact, for a long time, third-party applications were the only way to access Twitter other than on your computer (before Twitter bought Tweetie in 2010 to make it its official mobile application, then Tweetdeck in 2011).

Tweetbot, Twitterific, Fenix: the bug is not one

Since his arrival at Twitter, Elon Musk has been a regular at broken promises. The deletion of the ElonJet account had caused a lot of talk when the billionaire had promised that he would not touch you on the account that tracks the movements of his jet. So seeing him kill the API after saying he wouldn’t is unsurprising. Same thing about his lack of transparency, Elon Musk only communicates publicly on subjects that suit him.

When trying to open Tweetbot, an error message says that it is impossible to access your account. Logging back in doesn’t change anything. // Source: Capture Numerama

API death can be added to the long list of broken promises:

  • A 3-day outage, without any communication, is unprecedented. Twitter hasn’t said anything about the situation, which isn’t a great sign for the developers.
  • Tweetdeck, the software acquired by Twitter in 2011, still works. If the API was completely down, it shouldn’t be able to access tweets.
  • One of Tweetbot’s developers, Paul Haddad, tried to replace his access to the Twitter API with an old key (with far fewer functions). This manipulation allowed him to revive his application… until Twitter deactivated it again. He concluded that someone was intentionally attacking Tweetbot and that the API wasn’t really down.
  • In some cases, the Twitter API continues to work (Twitterific still works on Mac, but no longer on iOS). The deactivations seem manual and targeted.
  • The page to access the API when you’re a developer no longer exists.
  • The Information says it was able to consult internal discussions at Twitter, on Slack. It says that disabling apps to access Twitter is intentional.

Elon Musk is wrong

Elon Musk, who spent $44 billion to acquire the social network, seems to have only one word in mind: profitability. Launching the Twitter Blue paid membership to get certified and adding a view counter are part of his plan to boost revenue from Twitter, which he wants to turn into the liveliest place on the web. The existence of alternative solutions to access Twitter necessarily poses a problem for him, especially when we know that they use Twitter as they please, without advertising and without obligation to implement the changes wanted by Elon Musk.

Since the arrival of Elon Musk, Twitter no longer says with which application a tweet was written.  A view counter has also appeared.  // Source: Capture Numerama
Since the arrival of Elon Musk, Twitter no longer says with which application a tweet was written. A view counter has also appeared. // Source: Capture Numerama

However, one cannot help questioning the method. Rather than cutting everything overnight, even if it means disgusting the creators of these applications (those of Tweetbot and Tweetdeck have announced they are leaving on Mastodon) and leaving no transition time for historical users of these applications, Elon Musk would not have he not have to dialogue?

Forcing API users to implement ads and communicate views was a possibility, especially since third-party developers have always made a lot of concessions to accommodate changes in Twitter’s mood (the API has had very few updates, limiting their functions to the essentials for a long time). This radical decision is violent and deals a new blow to the image of Twitter, which is a social network yet based on the community aspect.

One of the developers of Tweetbot seems to be saying goodbye to Twitter.

What about professionals, to whom Elon Musk has been promising mountains and wonders for several months? If there are still official solutions for tweeting (like Tweetdeck), those who have developed in-house solutions with the API, in particular to manage after-sales services, risk panicking at the idea that everything could stop day to day. Even if Elon Musk’s decision is irrevocable, explanations seem more than necessary for the billionaire’s lack of recognition for those who made Twitter successful.