Twitter said last week that the free use of its APIs would end on February 9. Days before the deadline, Elon Musk announced that Twitter will offer a write-only API for “bots delivering useful content that is free” after hearing from developers.

This choice is just as unclear as some of the other ones made by Musk’s administration. There is no information on what “good material” is or who would decide what is good content. But if Twitter does decide to enforce this regulation, some bots will have a new chance at survival on the site.

Previously, Twitter terminated third-party clients’ access to its API on the grounds that they had violated an undefined “long-standing guideline.” The business later amended its developer terms covertly to state that apps are not permitted to “use or access the Licensed Materials to construct or attempt to create a substitute or similar service or product to the Twitter Applications.”

Following the announcement, many bot-loathing engineers opposed the choice, arguing that automation gave users access to free material that improved the services. Buzzfeed conducted interviews with many disgruntled bot developers last week. These consist of the @ restaurant bot, which tweets arbitrary images of eateries, and the @ weather bot, which tweets pictures of various locations along with weather updates.

Since they might need to check account information, it’s unclear at this time if accounts like @BigTechAlert, which tweets about big tech execs and organisations following and unfollowing each other, will be qualified for this free tier.

These automated accounts have been a crucial component of Twitter for years, according to Darius Kazemi, a developer who has created over 80 bots and even held a bot developers convention in 2016. He claimed that some of these bots, some of which have thousands of followers, make many people happy every day.

He said that maintaining these bots, which are giving the platform free content, would be expensive.

According to him, maintaining more than 80 bots on Twitter would cost several thousand dollars annually, which he couldn’t afford.

Musk has been making efforts to increase revenue for Twitter, including adding a pricey new subscription plan and increasing ad spending. In order to share revenue with artists, he also intends to display advertising in replies. The Twitter CEO stated that only Blue Subscribers can make money from this, despite the lack of specifics around how it will operate. Therefore, it’s likely that content bots won’t make any money even if advertisements are shown on their accounts or in the tweet replies that they receive.

The removal of Twitter’s free API has an impact beyond bot developers. Many student programmers and experts on hate speech or disinformation may not have the funds to pay a monthly fee. Academics have special access to Twitter’s v2 API, but under the new API restrictions, that might not be the case.

Additionally, developers have noted that many bots that disseminate spam do not truly use the official API. In order to eliminate spam, the company’s plan to shut down free API may not be successful.

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