Twitter Unveils the First Major Overhaul of Its API Since 2012

The social network has added more flexibility for developers

Twitter API platforms
Twitter is saying farewell to three different API platforms and experiences and replacing them with Basic, Elevated and Custom. Twitter
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Twitter took the wraps off Twitter API v2 today, a complete rebuild of its application-programming interface since it was last updated in 2012.

However, the first set of endpoints, which were scheduled to be made available to developers today, are on hold due to Wednesday’s security breach that affected several high-profile accounts. Instead, they’ll roll out early next week.

The social network’s first public API—which enables developers to incorporate data and functionality from Twitter into their apps—was released in 2006.

In 2012, the platform added new requirements and stricter policies to curb abuse and protect the platform. Executives hope this next iteration helps diversify its developer ecosystem.


“We know developers want flexibility. The Twitter API hasn’t addressed developer diversity well. Its pricing and access models are inflexible and limiting,” Twitter developer platform product lead Priyanka Shetty told reporters in a press briefing earlier this week.

The new API should be easier to use, with options including the ability to specify which fields get returned or to retrieve more tweets from a conversation within the same response. It will also have features that were previously not part of the API, including:

“We’d been using a one-size-fits-all approach to developers that treated everyone like they had commercial intent,” Twitter developer platform design lead Alyssa Reese explained in a company blog post. “That approach was not serving people’s needs, and we needed tailored solutions for different types of developers.”

Twitter will also eliminate its three different API platforms and experiences—Standard (free), Premium (paid, self-serve) and Enterprise (paid, custom)—and the onerous process for developers when their needs expanded and they had to migrate to a different API.

And the social network plans to roll out new, distinct product tracks to provide specific types of developers with the proper experience and support for their needs, along with a range of relevant access levels and appropriate pricing.

The Basic product track will be the default for most developers, with Elevated access to be added in the future.

“We have a really strong belief in the good things developers have built with us in the past and will build with us in the future,” Twitter developer platform head of product Ian Cairns said during the press call.

Twitter will also offer a specific, unique track for academic researchers and developers that build businesses around the API.

In her blog post, Reese highlighted the easier onboarding process, saying the initial app creation process went from 10 fields to one.

A new portal allows developers to access the onboarding wizard, manage their apps, learn about their API usage and limits, access the support center and find documentation.

The social network said developers can stream tweets in real time or analyze past conversation to look at public conversations happening on its platform or bring consumer insights to businesses.

Tweet performance can be measured to help people and businesses use the platform more effectively, and developers can listen for important events, as well as explore tweets from any account.

Those features are all part of the free basic access level, which Twitter said will provide everything most developers need to get started.

Cairns said deprecations are coming for existing versions of its APIs, but developers will receive ample notice and have plenty of time to migrate.

“We know migrations can be challenging,” Shetty added. “We’re committed to doing our part. Going forward, we want to be a little bit more mindful of how we do this. We will be giving developers enough notice before we launch a new version.”

Twitter is sharing its public road map to keep developers posted on its vision and updates, and to enable them to share feedback.


Next to be introduced is full support for hiding and unhiding replies and free elevated access for academic researchers.

“We have not changed anything that we’ve said in the past,” Cairns said. “We want to be intentional about how we serve a whole range of developers, and not just the enterprise segment we’ve served in the past.” David Cohen is editor of Adweek's Social Pro Daily.