Twitter’s Historical Search API Won’t be Available to Third Party Developers

Twitter’s Historical Search API Won’t be Available To Third Party Developers

Last week we reported on news that Twitter was now indexing every tweet published on the platform, and all of these tweets – going back to March 21, 2006, when Twitter first opened its doors – would be findable in Twitter Search.

Good stuff. Unfortunately, the API for that historical search index won’t be made available to third party developers and their Twitter apps, which is bad news for anyone who doesn’t want to use the official Twitter apps.

“We don’t have any plans to make the full historical index available for free via the public REST API,” writes Twitter’s Isaac Hepworth on the Twitter Developer forum. “The focus of search/tweets (and the streaming statuses/filter endpoint) will continue to be real-time search.”

Meaning that, for non-official Twitter apps – which includes Tweetbot, Tweetlogix and Twitterrific – search results will only return what is happening on Twitter now, as opposed to what has happened in the past.

This might sound like a small thing, but it’s not. By excluding the full index of search results from third party apps Twitter has given people yet another reason to stop using them. After all, nobody wants less of a Twitter experience. You want all the bells and whistles, right? Few things in modern technology are as frustrating as finding out that the app (or device) that you are using doesn’t do everything that you want.

It hasn’t always been this way. Once upon a time the only place you could get a great experience was on third party apps, but increasingly Twitter is making them more and more impotent. Sure, it might not be doing it directly by actively closing them down, but by repeatedly kicking away their legs they’re basically doing the same thing, albeit alongside a frustrating, we’re all in this together awkward smile (i.e., Flight). By taking away all the key pieces of the puzzle, it won’t be long before third party devs – and their users – get bored and move on. And if they’re still interested in Twitter per se the only place they can go is Twitter, for reals. Which is a huge win for Twitter, Inc.

Why do this? Money. Ads, specifically. Twitter wants (and needs) more active users, but it needs them to be using official platforms so that they see ads and be sold to. Most third party apps don’t show ads and can’t be controlled as effectively by Twitter. So in many ways they’re a big problem for the company, and its investors. And, as a publicly traded company with shareholders, earnings reports and dividends, that’s a problem Twitter must now solve.