Any developer who releases an app with the intention of getting more than 100,000 users must gain the company’s explicit permission before doing so. Additionally, apps that already have more than 100,000 users can double their user base, but must also get a green light from Twitter before growing any more than that.
The changes are a part of Twitter’s general overhaul of its Application Programming Interface (API), which is the way third-party apps interact with the social network.
Twitter director of consumer product Michael Sippey said the new rules aim to “deliver a consistent Twitter experience”.
He said: “If you are building a Twitter client application that is accessing the home timeline, account settings or direct messages API endpoints (typically used by traditional client applications) or are using our User Streams product, you will need our permission if your application will require more than 100,000 individual user tokens.”
Mr Sippey also highlighted changes to guidelines on how tweets are displayed in apps: “If your application displays Tweets to users, and it doesn't adhere to our Display Requirements, we reserve the right to revoke your application key.”
While the changes are doubtful to have an impact for a while on users, developers have been extremely vocal about the changes.
Instapaper creator Marco Arment, urged developers building apps for Twitter to "start working on another product".
“Twitter has left themselves a lot of wiggle room with the rules. Effectively, Twitter can decide your app is breaking a (potentially vague) rule at any time, or they can add a new rule that your app inadvertently breaks, and revoke your API access at any time.
“Of course, they've always had this power. But now we know that they'll use it in ways that we really don't agree with.
“I sure as hell wouldn't build a business on Twitter, and I don't think I'll even build any nontrivial features on it anymore.”
Joshua Lewis and Galen Wolfe-Pauly, developers and co-founders of Twitter aggregation service State Design have been hit hard by the changes.
In a blog post, they said: “Early this year we set out to build for cloud data what Photoshop is for images: a general purpose tool for manipulation, filtering and publishing called State. We decided to build our MVP on a small set of services that we loved and felt ideologically connected to: Twitter, Instagram, Dropbox, and Instapaper.
“At the time these four services felt more like protocols than platforms, a nice set of APIs for creating, consuming, and persisting text and images. State rests on top of these services and provides affordances for working with data both within and between them.
“We are particularly proud of what we do with Twitter data and unfortunately we now run rampantly afoul of Twitter's impending display guidelines.”
Whether or not the changes have an impact on Twitter’s user base remains to be seen.