Twitter Backtracks, Lets Emergency and Traffic Alert Accounts Keep Free API Access

    Twitter reverses course after putting its paywall and is now making an exception to emergency and transportation agencies – some of whom have already left.

    in a tweet from the Twitter Dev on Tuesday said that “verified government or publicly owned services” who tweet weather updates, transport updates, and emergency notifications can continue to use API for free. It’s unclear what “verified” means to the company. Does this only apply to agencies that have enabled a “verified” new account? Do they need to pay for any sub-accounts which may require API access to be checked off?

    Last month, we began to see the impact of the API changes when a number of emergency and transport accounts had trouble posting alerts on the platform. The National Weather Service (NWS) suspended some accounts from Twitter without explanation. However, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority and Bay Area Rapid Transit also experienced issues with their API access.

    The MTA halted all bus and train updates on Twitter last week, stating that Twitter was no longer able to provide the regular updates that riders expected. Instead, it encouraged riders to use or sign up for email and SMS alerts.

    The MTA responded to this change by tweeting: “Glad that Twitter got the point. We are happy that Twitter has committed to providing free API access for the MTA, and other public sector organizations. We’re reviewing our options in light of the reversal.

    Other affected services such as the NWS and US Forest Service pointed users in the same direction, but never left Twitter. BART spokesperson James Allison said that at the same time, the agency would “closely monitor the situation” while continuing to use Twitter.

    Users can only send 1,500 automated Tweets per month with the free version. The prices increase, with a hobbyist Basic plan costing $100 per monthly and an “low-cost enterprise plan ” reportedly reaching $42,000 per monthly. The setup is not ideal for weather agencies and transportation agencies who send out automated tweets every day to inform users of travel delays or emergencies.

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