Twitter is known for its strict control of the services that it provides its users and what third-party developers can do with its data. The company has made more changes to its API (application programming interface) to strengthen its control over how third-party developers can access its data stream. Similar to previous changes to the platform, the changes made to its API regarding data streams has pushed one of the most popular Twitter analytics tools, Favstar to shut down.
According to a report by TechCrunch, Favstar was one of the early players in allowing Twitter users to track and review how other platform users were liking or retweeting their tweets. Favstar, a company that started back in May 2009, replaced the “Pro Membership” page on its website to inform potential buyers about the shutdown. The page added that “Favstar Pro is no longer for sale” and its creator Tim Haines said that the service will go offline on June 19, 2018. The post added that any “Favstar Pro Membership beyond June 19th will receive a refund.”
To dive a little into what changes Twitter is making to its API related to data streams, the company is shutting down “User Streams” method that Favstar and other third-party apps use to access all the tweets, retweets, and likes of a user. Haines added that Twitter is launching a new API “around its Account Activity API” that will launch at the same time but the company has “not been forthcoming with the details or pricing”. Because of lack of details, “Favstar can’t continue to operate in this environment of uncertainty.”
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Even though, as pointed by the report, the Account Activity API is currently being beta tested, Twitter has not given its access to third-party developers. This access would allow all the third-party developers to rework their services according to the new APIs but it would still other technical issues such as rate limiting would break the automatic refresh feature available in most apps.
Other issues in the situation highlight how Twitter has changed over the years to provide most of the functions that Favstar was serving. These features include using endorsements to help tune the algorithm, use that algorithm to bring you notifications as well as provide you analytics on how your tweets are doing. The company has also been tinkering with trying to find newer sources of revenue with time. This has resulted in Twitter pushing its relationship with third-party developers towards the edge. Lastly, this also serves as an example of how risky it is to create a service based on an existing platform.