Twitter API Is Going Behind the Paywall

Another free Twitter feature is getting monetized under Elon Musk's leadership, and some people are lamenting the end of one of the site's fun features.

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Andrew Blok is a former editor for CNET who covered home energy, with a focus on solar. As an environmental journalist, he navigates the changing energy landscape to help people make smart energy decisions. He's a graduate of the Knight Center for Environmental Journalism at Michigan State and has written for several publications in the Great Lakes region, including Great Lakes Now and Environmental Health News, since 2019. You can find him in western Michigan watching birds.
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Twitter logo on a phone screen

Twitter's API is becoming part of its revenue stream. 

Sarah Tew/CNET

Twitter is adding a fee to another previously free service next week: its application programming interface, or API. This gives people an automated way "to find and retrieve, engage with, or create" tweets, users, spaces, direct messages and more, according to Twitter

"Starting February 9, we will no longer support free access to the Twitter API, both v2 and v1.1. A paid basic tier will be available instead," the Twitter Dev account tweeted Thursday. Twitter did not say how much access would cost.

The Twitter API is used by developers who create third-party tools on the platform and researchers who analyze the data in their work. The end of this free service with just a week's notice has people speculating that favorite Twitter bots will shut down when the charge goes into effect.

The change to the Twitter API will effectively kill "every free fun and useful thing ever built with it: bots, games, mashups, visualizations, research projects, autoposters, autoblockers, deleters, and so much more," Andy Baio, former chief technical officer of Kickstarter, posted to Mastodon.

In December, Musk said that Twitter would hold votes on "major policy changes." It's not clear whether the revocation of free API access qualifies as that. Twitter didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.

Some bot creators have said that they won't keep their bots online if they have to pay for it. One Twitter user who developed bots that automatically post art to Twitter suggested it would drive smaller users away from the platform.

"Twitter data are among the world's most powerful data sets. We're committed to enabling fast & comprehensive access so you can continue to build with us," the Twitter Dev account tweeted.

This isn't the first service Twitter has monetized since Elon Musk took over the company in October. Twitter introduced an $8 per month subscription model for Twitter verification in late 2022.