Twitter’s big news this week is its announcement that it’s now enforcing its new policies around hateful content and abuse, but today the company is rolling out something new for developers, as well: an enterprise-level API providing access to real-time activities like tweets, retweets, likes and follows.
The addition of the API is part of Twitter’s broader plan to revamp and expand its API platform, announced this April. Similar to how Twitter is now trying to make things right with its user base -who have too often been the victims of harassment, abuse, hate, and threats of violence – the company has been trying to reset relations with its developer community, too.
Over the years, Twitter has pulled the rug out from underneath developers’ feet too often. For example, it used to encourage third-party apps, then it began restricting them. It hosted developer conferences, then it killed them. And it once offered a suite of developer tools, only to turn around and sell them.
This year, Twitter aimed to turn things around by streamlining its API platform, while taking full advantage of its investment in Gnip. This included the launch of new APIs and endpoints for developers, as well as a published roadmap in an effort to boost transparency around its developer-focused efforts.
Today’s news of the new enterprise Account Activity API is a part of those promised changes.
Specifically, the API is designed to help developers build apps that can power customer service, chatbots and brand engagement on Twitter, the company says – an area Twitter has been increasingly invested in this year.
The existing Account Activity API lets developers pull the full set of activities related to an account, in real-time. The new enterprise version of this API is designed for those who need data for a larger number of accounts, plus multiple webhook URLs, reliability features like retries, and managed support.
In addition, Twitter says it’s expanding the beta for the standard API that delivers activities for up to 35 accounts. And on January 15th, typing indicators and read receipts for Direct Messages will be included as activities in the API, so developers can build more natural conversational experiences. (Meaning, customers will feel like they’re talking to a person, not a bot).
Alongside this launch, Twitter is launching a suite of developer tools for Direct Messages out of beta.
These features include Quick Replies, Welcome Messages, Buttons on messages, Custom Profiles, and Customer Feedback Cards. All have been previously announced, launched, and put to use by brands like Samsung, MTV, TBS, Wendy’s, and Patrón who used the tools with their chatbots. Other, like Tesco and Evernote, are using them for customer service.
The exit from the Direct Message beta will see some features removed, Twitter notes. This includes Location quick replies and location cards, text input quick replies, support indicators, response hours, and the prominent message button on profiles.
These latter features – like support hours and the big message button – seemed to have been launched in response to Facebook Messenger and its own advances as a platform for customer service. But there were some concerns among consumers that the message button the CS account’s profile served as a way to not address customer inquiries and concerns in public, in order to protect the brand’s image.