Twitter is pushing harder to promote third-party security tools

Twitter has launched a new limited experiment through which it will promote third-party security tools on its service, TechCrunch reports. The test will initially focus on apps such as Block Party, Bodyguard and Moderate, which can help block harassment and other toxic content on the platform.

With this experiment, selected users will see these services promoted with a new prompt when they mute or block another account on Twitter. It highlights apps that appear in Twitter Toolbox, a recently launched initiative which currently promotes third-party Twitter tools in a online hub† “The Twitter Toolbox provides more solutions to improve your experience on Twitter,” the prompt reads, before listing a selection of services.

The experiment is Twitter’s attempt to promote third-party tools on its platform, which currently must rely on word of mouth or traditional advertising to attract new users. †[Developers] users want and we want to provide them with the right users at the right time,” said Amir Shevat, product head of Twitter. TechCrunch

An example of the third-party tool prompt shown to users in the test.
Image: Twitter via TechCrunch

It comes as Twitter tries to rethink its historically shaky relationship with third-party developers. In the early days of Twitter, the social media network had a very open approach, allowing developers to build fully-featured third-party clients for its service. But in 2012, this approach changed, and as of 2018, Twitter had obliterated the full-featured third-party client market.

But just two years later, the company rebuilt the tools available to third-party developers. It launched version 2 of its API in early access in 2020, with support for “conversation threading, poll results in Tweets, pinned Tweets on profiles, spam filtering, and more powerful stream filtering and query language.” The new API left early access last year, although it is still posted some limits for developers, such as limiting them to pulling 500,000 or 2 million tweets per month, depending on their access level.

According to Shevat, the hope is to encourage a mutually beneficial relationship between Twitter and third-party developers. “I now see Twitter as the old Nokia phone… it was a good phone. But the only app on it was Snake, if you remember,” Shevat said. TechCrunch† “I see the future of Twitter as an iPhone, where the value you get is really through developer innovation.”

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