Twitter’s plan to charge for crucial tool prompts outcry

February 13, 2023

In the aftermath of the devastating earthquake in Turkey and Syria, thousands of volunteer software developers have been using a crucial Twitter tool to comb the platform for calls for help — including from people trapped in collapsed buildings — and connect people with rescue organizations.

They could soon lose access unless they pay Twitter a monthly fee of at least $100 — prohibitive for many volunteers and nonprofits on shoestring budgets.

“That’s not just for rescue efforts which unfortunately we’re coming to the end of, but for logistics planning too as people go to Twitter to broadcast their needs,” said Sedat Kapanoglu, the founder of Eksi Sozluk, Turkey’s most popular social platform, who has been advising some of the volunteers in their efforts.

Nonprofits, researchers and others need the tool, known as the API, or Application Programming Interface, to analyze Twitter data because the sheer amount of information makes it impossible for a human to go through by hand...

Rebekah Tromble, director of the Institute for Data, Democracy, and Politics at George Washington University, used the Twitter API to track conversations on Twitter to see what kinds of tweets elicited attacks from trolls — and what got them to go away — in one study.

“With so little information from Twitter about the practicalities of this new policy, the specifics of it, we just don’t know where to go. We have no way to do the planning. And for many of us who are in the field, running programs, running projects that have real world consequences, that’s pretty scary,” she said.

Read the full article in AP.