Twitter has provided us a date for streaming API s…

Twitter has provided us a date for streaming API shut-off time. August 16. It claims that only 1% of third-party apps use the service, and has introduced pricing plans for its new Activity API. Lots of people with disabilities are going to be essentially deprived of a voice.


  • re “deprived of a voice,” the REST API lets you read and write pretty much all of the same things as the streaming API, with a few small caveats like reading likes. are you thinking of something specific? or is the streaming API more accessible than the REST API somehow? or…?

    • @Ryan with regard to people with disabilities being deprived of a voice, it’s not that the APIs are more or less accessible, and it’s true that you can do most things using the rest API that you can do with the streaming API. What’s at issue I think is clients. Some, (I would say most, although there is no data to back this up because no data is collected), blind people who use Twitter do so via one of two clients: Chicken Nugget, or TWBlue. Both of these are clients which allow you to use Twitter without a GUI. They allow you to press keystrokes from anywhere on your Windows system to interact with tweets or compose new ones. With the streaming API, they also allow for conversations to happen in real time either via mention or direct message. When not using Chicken Nugget or TWBlue, blind people almost always use a third-party client on their phone, because while the Twitter client has had some improvements, clients like Twitterific or Tweetings are more accessible for most because their authors tend to prioritize accessibility more than Twitter actually does. Twitter, both for its client and its website, gets a lot of technical accessibility right, but not the user testing part. And I think there are a lot of people who either can’t or won’t learn a new client. “Can’t” is because of the state of assistive technology training, which is abysmal right now, although there is a recently available certification for assistive technology instructors which is gaining some traction and which attempts to address the systemic problems. For a glimpse of some of those problems, see Accessibility, free software and the rights of people with disabilities from last year’s Libre Planet conference. It touches on some of this.

      The hackers and other technically-proficient people in the blind community will be fine. We’ll either switch clients because we’re able to learn new technical interfaces quickly and start using Twitter’s native client or website, or go indieweb. But for the rest who rely on third-party clients like Chicken Nugget, and who can’teasily learn new technical things for whatever reason, there aren’t going to be any options, because the developer of Chicken Nugget has already said he’s not going to make the changes to keep up with the new API, and even if he wanted to, this is such a small market that paying the costs to get access to the API would I think put him under water. Even if he opted to just go with the rest API, he’d run into the limitations imposed by that API for requests, which was why he switched to the streaming API in the first place.

      This is a long response, but I hope it helps explain things.


  • You’re assuming everyone is just going to rewrite their third-party apps from the ground up and that users are going to revert to not having the features the streaming API offered. Neither of these are going to happen, and I don’t blame the developers.

  • That’s bullshit. I dislike this Twitter decision as much as most people, but making this a discrimination thing. The web site is accessible. The phone apps are accessible. They’re piles of shit experiences, but they’re accessible. I expect we’ll all be checking out on 8/16.

  • I’m not suggesting that Twitter is discriminating. What I am suggesting is that, given that blind people tend to use third-party apps, and given that those are essentially going away, or will be vastly different, the effect is going to be that this group of people will lose.

  • Nope… It doesn’t sound conspiratorial at all. It’s the truth. Free doesn’t pay, and in twitter’s case, the third party apps were preventing users from seeing any sponsored tweets. Money makes the world go round, nothing’s free, blah blah blah. It’s just how it is. That said, did you see the crazy prices though that anyone wanting access to the API will have to pay should they want to try? It’s ridiculous!

  • The schedulers are already having trouble. Twitter’s newish publishing rules mean that you can’t send the same message to more than one account, and Facebook’s new rules are cutting off publishing altogether from third-parties unless the third parties adopt the new sharing modal dialog, so yeah schedulers are I think shot. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Social media has become a haven for marketers and advertising, which means that all kinds of corners get cut in the name of clicks and impressions. This is having all kinds of effects on society thanks to scale, and it enables a situation where anyone can create clickbate and expect that people will click and share without thinking, none of which is a good thing. Marketing isn’t bad and neither is advertising. But when you combine these with automation and the willingness to do whatever it takes to bring in the dollars, you have, well, now. I don’t think eliminating APIs or the other digital solutions are the way to go about addressing these problems. These aren’t digital problems, they’re social, and these are absolutely the wrong approaches.

  • Third-party client developers will need to pay to access the new API. And it’s a lot of money, especially if you support lots of users. This means that, at best, the cost would need to be passed onto the users, and there would be no room for discounts, ETC. The app market bottomed out a long time ago. See, for example, people’s unwillingness to pay more than $5 for an app, if that. These are monthly charges, which means that the developers and then the users would need to pay enough to make up the cost every month, and I haven’t even touched on profitability. For smaller apps like Chicken Nugget, with smaller user bases, the subscription price would need to be higher in order to make up for the lack of users.

  • A primary part of my job, and indeed my entire professional field, depends on social media scheduling/monitoring/maintenance. Twitter is, of course, a huge part of that. Besides scheduling tools, I also use Twitterific and Chicken Nugget because they’re so much more accessible and usable than Twitter’s own web and mobile interfaces. I’d have no issue with this whatsoever if Twitter would deign to improve their own tools, but since they’re seemingly unwilling and would rather force the issue than attract users organically, I really fear for my professional landscape in the next while.

  • Oh I’m not surprised. This has been coming for a while, and Twitter, like Facebook, treats its third-party developers like absolute crap. This is only the latest. It also treats its users like crap, unless those users create lots of activity and engagement.



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