According to TechCrunch, Twitter has begun a new limited experiment in which it would push third-party safety features organically on its site. Apps such as Block Party, Bodyguard and Moderate, which may help block harassment and other harmful content on the site, will be the focus of the initial test.
With this experiment, select users will see these services pushed with a new prompt when they mute or block another account on Twitter. It showcases apps included in Twitter Toolbox, a freshly launched project that currently promotes third-party Twitter features in an online hub. “The Twitter Toolbox offers more ways to improve your experience on Twitter,” the prompt reads, before presenting a range of services.
The experiment is Twitter’s attempt to promote third-party tools on its platform, which now have to rely on word-of-mouth or traditional advertising to attract new users. “[Developers] want users and we want to supply them with the appropriate users at the right time,” Twitter’s head of product, Amir Shevat, tells TechCrunch.
An example of the third-party tools prompt presented to participants in the test.
It comes at a time when Twitter is trying to mend fences with third-party developers that have been a source of friction in the past. In the early days of Twitter, the social media network had a relatively open policy, allowing developers to construct fully-featured third-party clients for its service. This strategy changed in 2012, and by 2018, Twitter has effectively crushed the third-party client market for feature-complete clients.
But just two years later, the firm started redesigning the tools offered to third-party developers. It debuted version 2 of its API in early access in 2020, with support for “conversation threading, poll results in Tweets, pinned Tweets on profiles, spam screening, and a more robust stream filtering and search query language.” The new API left early access last year, although it still lays some constraints on developers, like limiting them to pulling 500,000 or 2 million tweets a month, depending on their access tier.
According to Shevat, the goal is to foster a partnership between Twitter and third-party developers that benefits both parties. “Twitter is like an old Nokia phone to me right now… It was a great phone for the price. TechCrunch asks Shevat why there was only one app on the device: Snake. “I view the future of Twitter like an iPhone, where the value that you get is actually through developer innovation.”