It’s been a few days since nearly every major third-party Twitter client broke, and developers say they still haven’t heard from the company about what’s going on. The problems appear to have started on Thursday evening, with some users reporting receiving authentication-related errors.
The silence from the company was almost complete. “No official/unofficial information from Twitter yet,” Tweetbot co-creator Paul Haddad said in a Mastodon post. “We’re just as clueless as you are,” read a blog post Friday from Iconfactory, the company behind Twitterific.
As of Sunday afternoon, there were no tweets about the plight of third-party apps from either the official Twitter accounton Support Twitter accountor Elon Musk. (So much for “transparency builds trust.”) The company does not have a communications department that we can ask directly about the problem.
Apps like Twitterific have since started showing a notification to users to deal with the outage. “Twitter users are currently unable to access the service,” the message said. “This may just be a temporary glitch; it may be a more serious problem. The Tweetbot app displays a similar message.
There was speculation from Twitter users, developers and some news outlets that this is a move by Twitter to completely shut down third-party clients. However, a Saturday report from The information seems to confirm that the break was intentional. In internal messages reviewed by the outlet, a senior software engineer said, “The suspension of third-party apps is intentional” in a Slack channel dedicated to Twitter outages and other disruptions.
According to The information, another employee asks when they can get a list of “approved conversation topics” in response to complaints about third-party apps not working on Friday. A product marketing manager reportedly responded by saying that Twitter had “started working on communications” but that they weren’t sure when that information would be ready to share with developers.
Haddad says his company will operate under the assumption that the outage is intentional, and Iconfactory’s post points to the possibility of a “new (seemingly unannounced and unannounced) policy that only applies to high-user apps.”
Some apps like Albatross and Fenix continued to work for me and some othershowever according to the latter developer, the Android version got the ax while the iOS version remained active. The first Twitter app is also still functional.
Third-party apps rely on Twitter’s API to get data from the service, a point that has been controversial in the past as the company went through a period of neglecting third-party developer tools.
That appears to have reversed before Elon Musk bought the company, though it’s unclear where he stands on alternative Twitter apps; he does not seem to have said much positively or negatively about them. However, its Twitter 2.0 has incentives to make its own app the only game in town; the company is desperate to make money by focusing on its Blue subscription service, which offers features in its own client. Additionally, third-party apps often don’t display ads, meaning some users are potentially left completely unsecured.
It’s hard to tell if the 3rd party client outage is due to the API. Trying certain calls from my individual twitter developer account seems to work while Twitter’s own API exploration tool it is currently broken.
Update January 13, 9:05 PM ET: Updated to reflect that it’s been about a day since the problems started, and to note Twitter’s continued silence.
Update Jan. 14, 8:45 a.m. ET: Updated to reflect that it’s been a few days since the problems started, and to include a report from The information indicating that the break was “intentional”.
Update Jan. 14, 11:58 a.m. ET: Updated to add that some 3rd party apps are showing user outage notifications.