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Third-party Twitter clients are broken, whether by policy or glitch

Bird perched on a rail, looking downcast
Enlarge / Many third-party Twitter clients, apps the social network has been seeking to diminish since 2012, are suddenly not working, with no update or outreach from Twitter.

Nathan Coppen/Getty Images

Tweetbot, Twiterrific, Echofon, and other third-party Twitter clients have failed to work for many people since late Thursday night, and the social network has seemingly not notified the apps’ developers as to why.

Paul Haddad, a co-creator of Tweetbot, posted on Mastodon at 11:10 pm ET Thursday in reply to a post from tech journalist Casey Newton that multiple third-party clients were failing, with “no communication as to if [it’s] a bug or …” Tweets from the official accounts of the Tweetbot and Twitteriffic clients on Thursday night confirmed their communication issues. The account for Echofon posted shortly after 8:30 am Friday that it was working to resolve its issues and that “Twitter has not yet replied.”

Haddad told TechCrunch that the connection issues started at 10:30 pm on Thursday and noted that all API requests from his app were failing. A post on Twitter’s developers forum shows numerous Twitter-based app developers noting that their apps have been listed as “suspended” or showing invalid authentication credentials.

Not all third-party clients appear to be broken at the moment. Ars staffers successfully refreshed data tools that pull in Twitter data, and we heard from a user of the Tweeten client that it is still functioning. TweetDeck, an alternative client owned by Twitter, appeared functional Friday morning. Third-party client Fenix for Android was listed as “suspended,” according to developer Matteo Villa, but its iOS version was still functional.

Twitter’s uneven history with third-party clients and the company’s recent history of making unannounced changes with seemingly unexpected consequences has spurred discussion that this could be more of a sudden policy shift than an API glitch.

Twitter outright told developers to stop making client apps in early 2011, changed its API to severely restrict them in mid-2012, and then removed auto-refresh and push notifications in 2018. Heavy layoffs at the social media network have led many tech industry watchers to anticipate operational failures at the company as workers with knowledge of existing systems depart without replacement.

We could not reach Twitter for comment, as its public relations department reportedly no longer exists. The company had yet to comment on the API outage or related third-party client issues as of 11 am. Twitter owner Elon Musk tweeted at 9:06 am about changes to the bookmark button placement, image cropping, and “other minor bug fixes next week.”

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