Twitter boss Musk: Many headline-grabbing course changes in a short time
Samuel Corum / AFP
For almost a week, the developer scene around Twitter practiced guesswork: several so-called third-party clients suddenly stopped working, users of apps with alternative user interfaces could no longer log in.
Was it a technical problem with Twitter's programming interface, they wondered - or was it an abrupt disconnection of such services?
Another radical move by new boss Elon Musk, who seems relatively unconcerned about Twitter's traditions?
In any case, the third-party clients are an important part of Twitter's rise to become one of the most respected Internet platforms.
Their developers always had feature ideas from which Twitter itself also benefited.
Also, there are people who hate the official Twitter app and might never have posted thousands of tweets without a third-party client, which in turn were exciting to other Twitter users.
Twitterrific, an offer that boasts of having offered both the first Macintosh application and the first iPhone app for the short message service, was launched back in 2007.
Even the term "tweet" supposedly goes back to Twitterrific.
Slight adjustment, potentially big impact
Elon Musk and Twitter have so far been taciturn about the problems with the third-party services.
A company tweet on Tuesday said only that Twitter was "enforcing its long-standing API rules."
This could lead to “some apps not working”.
The US YouTuber Marques Brownlee, who is familiar with the platform with six million followers, then only asked: "What are the rules?" Twitter, whose waves of layoffs also hit his communications department massively, once again communicated erratically.
On Thursday evening, however, US media discovered that the company had slightly but significantly adjusted its guidelines for developers.
The guidelines now state that it is not permitted to use licensed materials to create or attempt to create a replacement service or a similar product "like the Twitter applications".
Those "Twitter Applications" are defined elsewhere as Twitter's offerings to consumers, "including but not limited to those offered through Twitter.com and Twitter's mobile applications."
One could say: It is now purely a matter of interpretation as to whether offers such as Tweetbot, Twitterrific and Co. are still permissible from Twitter's point of view.
However, the company has already created facts by blocking the interface access for several of these programs.
Two insincere apologies
Twitterrific creator Sean Heber has already drawn consequences from the new restrictions: He has removed his service's app from Apple's App Store.
Their "sudden and undignified end" was due to "an unannounced and undocumented change in policy by an increasingly capricious Twitter," the Twitterrific website said: "A Twitter that we no longer trust and with which we... don't want to work together anymore.«
Paul Haddad, the developer of the Tweetbot service, referred to the change in the developer guidelines on Thursday and commented with an ironic undertone on the competing platform Mastodon that there is finally clarity against which "long-standing" rule his app launched in 2011 apparently violated: "I guess I didn't realize that 'a long time' means 'a few hours ago', which again I'm very sorry."
On Tuesday, Haddad had already pretended to apologize: "I would like to publicly apologize to Twitter for breaking the following long-standing API rule," he had written there - and then the point where one would expect the name of a rule to be left blank.