Twitter has announced a new Pro plan for developers who need access to the platform’s APIs. At $5,000 per month, it falls between the $100 per month Basic plan with the most limited features and the Enterprise plan with individual pricing. And scientists studying the spread of disinformation have been instructed to delete Twitter data used for research unless they sign up to access an API worth up to $42,000 a month.
The new Twitter API Pro plan provides app-level access to 1 million tweets retrieved and 300,000 published tweets per month. It also includes rate-limited endpoint access for real-time filtered streams (live access to news based on set parameters) and full tweet archive search. Finally, three App IDs and a Twitter login are added.
However, its $5,000-per-month price tag for companies willing to experiment, build and scale a business leaves a huge gap between it and the $100-per-month base plan. The latter offers a bare minimum, forcing developers to take advantage of the Pro plan, which is priced outside many startups’ budgets.
Recent changes to the Twitter API have caused many problems for developers who want to continue accessing data. In January, the company blocked most third-party customers by updating the terms of service. In February, free access to the API was shut down and restored after large-scale protests. In April, Twitter permanently disabled the old version of the free API and restored access for emergency services in May.
Academic researchers have long used a Twitter API called Decahose to analyze the spread of disinformation. Scientists had daily access to a random 10% of all Twitter messages for free or $200 per month. However, last month the company increased its decahose fees to $42,000 per month. The first result was the disruption of third-party Twitter applications such as Tweetbot and Twitterific. A more serious impact was the failure of emergency alert systems.
Twitter then told universities and colleges that they would lose access to Decahose if they didn’t pay for the API subscription. “corporate level” for $42,000 per month. And today it was reported that not only will researchers lose access to current data, but they will also need to delete Twitter data obtained before the API was shut down by paid access. This demand has led many to think of Ray Bradbury and compare what happened to the book burning.
“Changes to the Twitter API are disastrous for our research into the spread of misinformation and its harm, the manipulation of social media, and the vulnerability of people and platforms to online abuse.”, says Filippo Menczer, director of the Social Research Laboratory at Indiana University. Some researchers have said they will have to stop their jobs, while others plan to gather data informally.