Twitter is finally starting to put a price on its paid API plans after announcing that the platform’s free API access would soon be cut off.
And, it’s not cheap.
Existing users of Twitter’s current free API service have started to receive emails from the company that finally share pricing details about the new subscription packages. According to Chris Stokel-Walker at Wired(Opens in a new tab) who first reported the news, those looking at Enterprise API access are going to pay millions of dollars per year.
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The documents sent to those API users by Twitter representatives details price packages that start at $42,000 per month for access to 50 million tweets. The pricing goes all the way up to $210,000 per month for the highest plan with 200 million tweets. A mid tier plan that provides 100 million tweets is priced at $125,000.
Oddly, instead of higher tiers being offered at a discount for customers who pay more like many other online companies provide, the pricing model charges extra. (For example, 100 million tweets should be priced at $84,000 for double the tweets, yet Twitter is charging $125,00.)
Previously, before Elon Musk came along, Twitter offered a generous free tier of its API. “Premium” and “Enterprise” API plans were offered. The highest advertised subscription rate was a “premium” plan that would set a customer back $2,899(Opens in a new tab) per month. Only large businesses with more than 250 users were previously eligible for the “Enterprise” API tier. The cost of that was worked out on a case-by-case basis by Twitter, depending on the organization or company.
On top of the high pricing, under the new rules, the lowest plan only provides access to 0.3 percent of tweets. According to those currently using the API, the soon-to-be phased out free plan provides access to one percent of tweets.
Researchers make up a significant portion of the user base for Twitter’s API. Many academics have pointed out that this pricing puts utilizing Twitter’s API out of their reach financially.
Just a little over one month ago on Feb. 2, Twitter announced one of the biggest changes it was making to its platform since Elon Musk took over the company. The free basic API access that Twitter had long offered to everyone from small indie developers to academic researchers would cease to exist. Users of all types would now have to pay. However, no further details were provided at the time.
Musk’s plan to charge for API access has not gone smoothly. The date that free access was slated to shut off, Feb. 9, came and went without any changes. Twitter then announced the new API rules would come on Feb. 13(Opens in a new tab), but instead Twitter just announced(Opens in a new tab) another delay on that day.
Then earlier this week, Twitter suffered a major platform issue causing links, photos, and other services to go down completely for hours. It later came out that the crash was caused by a developer trying to prepare Twitter for the move to its paid API subscription.
Elon Musk’s decision to kill free API access was roundly criticized when first announced. Many popular free Twitter bots and automated accounts planned to shut down rather than pay. In response, Musk altered his plans and said Twitter would provide free “read-only” access with lower API limits to free projects.
While not official, Musk has also floated(Opens in a new tab) the idea of charging around $100 per month for more basic API access for small projects and startups that are monetized by their creators.
As Wired points out in its report, Musk once called Twitter the “de facto town square.” He has also claimed that he acquired the company to defend free speech. Now that Musk is in charge, accessing the town square and its speech will cost you a pretty penny.
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