Twitter is trying to stop more bad apps from ever reaching its platform, as part of a crackdown on what it calls “malicious automation.”
In a blog post attributed to platform policy manager Yoel Roth and senior director of product management Rob Johnson, the company announced that starting today, all developers who are requesting access to Twitter’s standard APIs for the first time will have to go through a new app registration process. Twitter first rolled out the registration process in November, but previously it was only for developers requesting first-time access to Twitter’s premium APIs.
Eventually, all developers with existing access to the APIs will have to go through the registration process — but Twitter isn’t saying exactly when, only that it will provide a 90-day notice before enforcing this requirement.
As part of today’s announcement, Twitter also revealed that it has removed the platform access of more than 143,000 apps that violated its policies between April and June 2018, and is now giving users the option to “report a bad app” in the Help Center. Twitter didn’t specifically say what policies the removed apps have violated, but today’s announcement called out apps that produce spam or result in invasions of users’ privacy as things the company is trying to stop from reaching the platform.
The new registration process requires that developers provide detailed information about how they intend to use Twitter’s APIs, and how the proposed use case will make being on Twitter a better experience for users. Facebook, which is currently requiring all apps with existing access to a slew APIs to undergo an app review, is also judging apps based upon how effectively they demonstrate that the app has a valid use case. Developers should note that they’ll have to apply for a developer account using the new portal developer.twitter.com, while they can still manage all existing apps at apps.twitter.com.
Twitter did not say specifically how long developers should expect the app registration process to take, only that “our aim is to continue to build a platform where Twitter developers who comply with our policies can get started quickly and scale up, with little to no friction.”
By forcing apps to undergo reviews, there will in theory be fewer apps like thisisyourdigitallife — a personality quiz that passed along the data it harvested to analytics firm Cambridge Analytica — whose intent is mainly to suck as much data out of users as possible and then give it to third parties. But developers still experience relatively little oversight once they get access to a platform like Twitter.
Other changes announced today: Twitter will now cap the default number of apps that can be registered to a single developer account at 10. On September 10, Twitter will also introduce new default app-level rate limits for a variety of endpoints, including Tweets & Retweets, Likes, Follows, and Direct Messages. The company said that the latter announcement was being pushed on an “accelerated” timeline, but didn’t say specifically how much the proposed change had been moved up.
“These changes will help cut down on the ability of bad actors to create spam on Twitter via our APIs, while continuing to provide the opportunity to build and grow an app or business to meaningful scale,” Roth and Johnson wrote in their blog post.