The Daily Parker

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Twitter's long slide into irrelevance

I woke up this morning to about 450 error messages because our team's Twitter account got suspended at midnight UTC—that is, at 7pm last evening. No one knew about it because we never considered Twitter errors critical enough to keep them in our inboxes; they all go to an Outlook subfolder. Apparently, Twitter finally decided that our 15-minutes-apart API calls violated a policy, but we never got informed that this would happen or that we needed to correct something.

As near as I can figure out, Twitter's new pricing structure gives developers access to post 1,500 Tweets per month for free, but doesn't allow searches. Our app doesn't post, it only reads Tweets. The "Basic" level costs $100 and allows reading 10,000 Tweets per month. Anything more than that and you have to apply for an Enterprise license—and they don't disclose pricing information online.

Our app read about 12,000 Tweets per hour because each API call brought back about 2,000 Tweets at a time. And as far as we knew, that was what we signed up for. We even have code that checks whether we're approaching the API rate limit so we can pause the API calls.

All of this happened on the same day that Twitter decided National Public Radio is "state-affiliated media," i.e., in the same category as TASS and North Korea's "news" channel. NPR is not amused:

NPR operates independently of the U.S. government. And while federal money is important to the overall public media system, NPR gets less than 1% of its annual budget, on average, from federal sources.

Noting the millions of listeners who support and rely upon NPR for "independent, fact-based journalism," NPR CEO John Lansing stated, "NPR stands for freedom of speech and holding the powerful accountable. It is unacceptable for Twitter to label us this way. A vigorous, vibrant free press is essential to the health of our democracy."

NPR officials have asked Twitter to remove the label. They initially assumed it was applied by mistake, NPR spokesperson Isabel Lara said. "We were not warned. It happened quite suddenly last night," Lara said.

In response to an NPR email for this story seeking comment and requesting details about what in particular might have led to the new designation, the company's press account auto-replied with a poop emoji — a message it has been sending to journalists for weeks.

Mastadon user Rod Hilton posted this in December, which perfectly captures  the value of Twitter's infantile owner:

He talked about electric cars. I don't know anything about cars, so when people said he was a genius I figured he must be a genius.

Then he talked about rockets. I don't know anything about rockets, so when people said he was a genius I figured he must be a genius.

Now he talks about software. I happen to know a lot about software & Elon Musk is saying the stupidest shit I've ever heard anyone say, so when people say he's a genius I figure I should stay the hell away from his cars and rockets.

I figure, I'll keep Twitter as long as some of the people I like keep posting on it, but I know the app will eventually fail. It's a little annoying that our research at work has to stop, because now I have to build an API adapter for a new app.

I can't help but compare Musk to Eddie Lampert, the guy who destroyed the department store Sears. I despise sociopaths like Lampert, but at least Lampert had a definable business strategy and extracted value from tearing the brand apart. Musk really isn't all that smart, and Twitter isn't all that valuable. "Say what you want about the tenets of National Socialism, Dude. At least it's an ethos."

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