Twitter clamps down on developer access to APIs

Between April and June 2018, Twitter said it removed more than 143,000 apps that violated its policies.
Written by Natalie Gagliordi, Contributor

Twitter on Tuesday revealed that it removed more than 143,000 apps that violated its policies between April and June 2018. The company also rolled out more updates to its developer platform as it works to clamp down on usage of the Twitter API.

Specifically, the microblogging platform is introducing a stricter and more thorough application process for developers seeking access to its API. Twitter is also increasing accountability for apps with high volumes of engagement on the service, while at the same time making it easier for people to report apps that may violate Twitter's rules.

The developer application process will now require those seeking API access to apply for a developer account using a new developer portal at developer.twitter.com. To ensure policy compliance, developers will have to outline detailed information about how they plan to use Twitter's APIs.

Approved applicants may face additional questioning and policy reviews if they request access to additional features, including high volume posting. To that end, Twitter said it will add new default app-level rate limits that will apply to all requests to create Tweets, Retweets, likes, follows, or Direct Messages.

The change is a significant decrease in the existing rate of post activity allowed from a single app by default, Twitter said. The new limits will take effect on September 10.

"While we generally like to provide a longer timeline for developers to prepare for changes like these, we are accelerating this change because protecting our platform and people using Twitter from abuse and manipulation is our highest priority," wrote Yoel Roth, manager of trust and safety for Twitter, and Rob Johnson, senior director of product management, in a blog post.

As for the revamped reporting function, Twitter is adding a new "Report a bad app" option in its Help Center.

Twitter vowed back in January to tighten access to its API, which enables users to perform coordinated actions across multiple accounts in services like Tweetdeck. Twitter also committed to limiting the coordination abilities of the API, revamping its developer onboarding process with a focus on policy enforcement, and enforcing rules on the appropriate use of bots and automation.

In October, Twitter banned media sites Russia Today and Sputnik from advertising on its platform after determining that both Kremlin-backed news outlets attempted to interfere with and disrupt the 2016 election.

Looking ahead to the 2018 election, Twitter says it plans to better coordinate with federal and state election officials to ensure verification of major party candidates. The company also plans to weed out networks of malicious automation via improvements to its anti-spam technology, and will also monitor trending topics related to the 2018 elections for potential manipulation activity.


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