After Twitter started In the year In 2006, the company served as the heartbeat of the social media conversation. This is partly because the media is a place where people go to talk about the media, but also because it is willing to open up its support to researchers. Scholars have used free access to Twitter’s API, or application programming interface, to gain data on the types of conversations taking place on the platform, helping them understand what the online world is talking about.
The Twitter API is used by a large number of researchers. In the year As of 2020, there are more than 17,500 academic papers based on platform data, lending strength to Twitter owner Elon Musk’s argument that the platform is the “defacto town square.”
But new fees included in documents seen by WIRED suggest that many organizations that rely on API access to conduct research are now getting value from using Twitter.
It is the end of a long, intensive process. On February 2, Musk announced API access goes behind a paywall within a week. (Those who produce “good” content will be free.) A week later he He delayed the decision until February 13. Unsurprisingly, that deadline has passed since Twitter suffered a catastrophic outage.
According to a document sent by a Twitter representative to academic customers in early March and provided to WIRED, the company is now offering three tiers of enterprise packages for its developer platform. The cheapest minimum package gives access to 50 million tweets for $42,000 per month. The top tiers allow researchers or businesses to access large volumes of tweets—100 million and 200 million tweets—and cost $125,000 and $210,000 per month. WIRED confirmed the figures with other free API users, who received emails saying the new pricing plans would take effect within months.
“I don’t know if there’s a scholar on the planet who can afford $42,000 a month for Twitter,” said Jeremy Blackburn, an assistant professor at Binghamton University in New York and a member of the iDRAMA Lab, which analyzes hate speech on social media — including on Twitter.
Twitter did not respond to a request for comment.
For subscribers with the cheapest package, the number of rules for filtering data from the app’s Realtime PowerTrack API will be limited to 25,000 and the number of full archive search API queries will be 50,000. The number of Twitter handles analyzed via the Account Activity API is limited to 5,000 and there is a maximum of 20 queries per minute. Engagement API aggregate endpointThis allows researchers to see how well tweets are performing in terms of engagement.
While this may seem like an important data set, it only accounts for 0.3 percent of Twitter’s monthly output, meaning it’s far from a comprehensive snapshot of activity on the platform. Twitter’s free API access gives researchers access to 1 percent of all tweets.