Twitter Shuts Down Third-Party Clients In Policy Shift

Image credit: Twitterific

Twitter officially changes developer policy following technical changes that abruptly shut down most third-party clients

Twitter has officially ended a long-standing policy of tolerance toward third-party apps, after it made technical changes last week that stopped most independent apps from working.

On Thursday the company changed the terms of its developer agreement to clarify that developers weren’t allowed to “create a substitute or similar service or product” to what is provided by Twitter itself.

Last Wednesday the company had said in a Twitter message that it was “enforcing its long-standing API rules” with the result that “some apps” might stop working, without providing details of what rules it was enforcing.

The previous week, on 12 January, Twitter had made changes to its application programming interface (API) that caused popular third-party apps such as Tweetbot and Twitterific to abruptly stop working.

Image credit: Tweetbot
Image credit: Tweetbot

‘Not totally unexpected’

The third-party developers affected said no one had communicated with them at the time about what was being done.

They said they still haven’t received any direct communication from Twitter, which no longer has a communications department following mass layoffs under current owner Elon Musk, who bought the firm late last year.

“It’s not totally unexpected, but the lack of communication is a bit insulting,” Matteo Villa, the developer of Twitter app Fenix, told Engadget.

While Twitter said it was enforcing long-standing rules, the company has in fact long tolerated and even encouraged third-party clients.


In 2021 it removed a section from its developer policies that discouraged app makers from “replicating” its core services, saying it wanted to encourage competition.

Third-party apps have long played a central role in the social media service’s development, with 16-year-old Twitterific launched before Twitter had a native iOS app of its own.

Twitterific is even credited with coining the verb “tweeting”, at a time when Twitter preferred “Twittering”.

The move to shut down third-party apps comes at a time when Musk is seeking to boost revenue streams from subscriptions, the appeal of which is linked to features offered on Twitter’s own app.

Revenue plans

Musk said over the weekend he planned to launch an ad-free version of Twitter for a higher subscription fee.

But third-party apps – many of which are already ad-free – would directly compete with that plan.

Twitterific’s Sean Heber confirmed in a blog post the long-standing app had been discontinued.

“We are sorry to say that the app’s sudden and undignified demise is due to an unannounced and undocumented policy change by an increasingly capricious Twitter – a Twitter that we no longer recognise as trustworthy nor want to work with any longer,” Heber wrote.