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Twitter tries hard to promote third-party security tools

Twitter has launched a new limited experience that will see it natively promote developers’ third-party security tools on its service, Tech Crunch 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 experience, some users will see these services promoted with a new prompt when they deactivate or block another account on Twitter. It highlights apps featured in Twitter Toolbox, a recently launched initiative which currently promotes third-party Twitter tools in a online hub. “Twitter Toolkit offers more solutions to improve your Twitter experience,” 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] want users and we want to provide them with the right users at the right time,” said Twitter product manager Amir Shevat. Tech Crunch.

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

It comes as Twitter tries to overhaul its historically troubled relationship with third-party developers. In the early days of Twitter, the social media network had a very open approach, allowing developers to build full third-party clients for its service. But by 2012, that approach was changing, and by 2018 Twitter had effectively killed the market for full third-party clients.

But just two years later, the company was rebuilding the tools available to third-party developers. It launched version 2 of its API in early access in 2020, with support for “conversation thread, poll results in Tweets, pinned Tweets on profiles, spam filtering and a more powerful stream filtering and search query language”. New API left early access last year, though still in place some limits to developers, such as limiting them to 500,000 or 2 million tweets per month, depending on their level of access.

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