Twitter’s broken third-party apps will be the final straw for many users

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Many third-party Twitter apps including Tweetbot have been down for several days –and a new report suggests that the social media network has intentionally suspended the clients. If true, that could be the final insult that sees significant number of hardcore Twitter users leave for fresh pastures. 

According some internal Slack messages picked up by The Information, the continuing outage of clients like Tweetbot and Twitterific “was an intentional suspension”. While those messages didn’t clarify why Twitter was pulling the plug on the services, a strong possibility is because they don’t help drive ad revenue to the network.

Some third-party clients have ad-free versions, which isn’t exactly helpful in a time when Twitter is trying to offset declining ad revenues. But Twitter’s ongoing silence about the issue has poured fuel on the growing outrage about the situation – and that will only grow if it is indeed culling third-party apps on a permanent basis.

The complete absence of communication from Twitter has resulted in some pretty despondent statements from third-party apps. With Tweetbot going down again over the weekend, the client’s co-founder Paul Haddad has written on Mastodon that it’s time to go “on to smaller but greener pastures”. 

Twitterific, meanwhile, says “there’s still no official word about what’s going on”, while Talon stated that it “looks like Twitter has taken out support for Talon” and that it’s “working to see if there will be a solution for this”. The official Twitter account for Tweetbot suggests not, stating that “we are honored that so many of you have chosen us as the way to browser Twitter for the past 12+ years”.

We’re trying to get an official answer from Twitter about the apparent suspensions of third-party apps and will update this article if we hear back. But the continuing silence from Twitter’s official account, support account and Elon Musk so far suggests that the lack of communication is an intentional, if misguided, strategy that could ultimately cost it yet more users.

Analysis: Twitter’s rocky relationship with third-party apps comes to a natural end

A phone screen showing a Twitter cartoon made by Twitterific

An image made by the third-party app Twitterific for a blog post about its ongoing Twitter issues.  (Image credit: Twitterific)

Twitter has had a difficult relationship with third-party apps for several years now – and it looks increasingly likely that it’s prepared to fully sever ties with them.

Just over four years ago Twitter disabled several key features in apps like Tweetbot, Twitterific and Talon, including the APIs needed for push notifications. And even going back as far as 2012, the network told developers that they should veer away from making apps that included Twitter’s home timeline.

The reason was because Twitter wanted to focus on growing its native first-party apps. But this also clashed with the developer-friendly environment that helped birth the network and give it its community feel. Many features, including the retweet and hashtag, were actually inspired by ideas from Twitter’s users.

In another timeline, Twitter could have fully embraced the ideas and innovations sparked by outsiders and third parties to help fuel its growth. But under Elon Musk’s stewardship, the social network is increasingly making user-hostile decisions – like hiding its chronological feed.

The seemingly intentional disabling of many third-party apps is another example of that trend – and it could finally see many Twitter users, particularly those who remember its comparatively utopian early days, conclude that they’re no longer welcome. For many, the likes of Mastodon are looking more like home.

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