Welp, it’s official: 3rd-party Twitter clients are no longer allowed to exist.
As per Engadget, the social networking site has updated its developer agreement to state that devs can not “use or access the Licensed Materials to create or attempt to create a substitute or similar service or product to the Twitter Applications.”
Not an awful lot of ambiguity to find in that, is there? The “similar product to the Twitter applications” phrase basically describes every unofficial Twitter app in existence.
Last week the web winced when Twitter blocked a bunch of popular third-party Twitter apps from accessing its service.
Early hopes that that snafu was a slip up were soon squashed by A DEAFENING SILENCE.
So (since this is a Linux blog) what does this move mean for the two most popular Twitter apps for Linux, the GTK-based Cawbird (spun out of predecessor Corebird after it became a casualty of previous API changes), and Qt app Choqok?
Well, right now, not a lot; both continue to work normally without any major issues. I am able to add accounts from scratch in both using Twitter’s (hitherto permitted) authentication flow. I can see tweets, send tweets, search, browse, change my profile avatar to something ill-advised —the works.
Update Jan 22: Stable version of Cawbird can no longer auth new accounts, while existing ones are unable to connect to retrieve tweets, send, etc. Effectively, KO’d.
But time musk be ticking on their API access. Both clients bypass Twitter’s new god (the algorithmically-ordered “For You” feed) to provide users with access to an unfiltered, unfettered feed they’re in control of.
On a personal note, this news hits hard.
I’ve used unofficial Twitter apps for as long as I’ve been on Twitter (May 2008, fact fans). Linux, Windows, macOS, iOS, Android, and even Ubuntu Touch — anywhere I put a foot down, I grab up a Twitter client so I can stay abreast of What’s Happening™.
Some of the social networking site’s most iconic motifs have origins in the apps made by community devs doing their thing, to their design. Twitter even bought-out a particularly popular Twitter app for iPhone and reissued it as the official client.
Alas, popularity corrupts.
As Twitter’s influence grew, so the nuts tightened. The developer community began to be treated as an after-thought, held arms length, ignored, and not consulted with; API access was routinely subject to restrictions that were petty at best, and spiteful at worst.
Still, all is not lost. Twitter alternatives are booming. And the creativity, diversity, and experimentation that helped bootstrap Twitter’s formative years is still here, now on show and being channeled into experience that build on the liberal nature of the “fediverse“.
Maybe give us a follow there, eh?