How Twitter’s New API Rules Are Putting Lives at Risk by Blocking Vital Alerts
If you rely on Twitter for getting timely updates on weather, traffic, health, or other public service issues, you might be in for a rude awakening. Twitter has recently changed its API rules, and the result is that many public service accounts can no longer automatically post all their alerts. This means that you might miss out on important information that could affect your safety and well-being.
What are the new API rules and why do they matter?
Twitter’s API (Application Programming Interface) is a set of rules and protocols that allow third-party applications and services to interact with Twitter. For example, if you use a weather app that shows you tweets from the National Weather Service (NWS), the app is using Twitter’s API to access and display those tweets.
However, Twitter has recently updated its API rules, and one of the changes is that it limits the number of tweets that can be posted per account per day. According to Twitter, this is to prevent spam and abuse on the platform. The new limit is 300 tweets per day for standard accounts, and 2,400 tweets per day for verified accounts.
This might not seem like a big deal for most users, but it poses a serious problem for public service accounts that need to post frequent and urgent alerts. For example, the NWS has hundreds of local offices across the US, each with its own Twitter account. During severe weather events, such as hurricanes, tornadoes, floods, or wildfires, these accounts can post dozens or even hundreds of tweets per hour to warn and inform the public. With the new API rules, these accounts could easily exceed the limit and be blocked from posting any more tweets.
This is exactly what happened on October 12th, when several NWS offices reported that they could not automatically post all their alerts due to the new API rules. Some of these offices were in areas affected by Hurricane Delta, which made landfall in Louisiana and caused widespread damage and power outages. Other affected offices were in areas facing critical fire weather conditions, such as California and Colorado.
The NWS is not the only public service affected by the new API rules. Other accounts that post vital alerts include those for traffic, transit, health, emergency management, law enforcement, and more. These accounts provide valuable information to millions of people who depend on them for staying safe and informed.
How can you protect yourself from missing out on vital alerts?
If you are one of the many people who use Twitter to get updates on public service issues, you might be wondering what you can do to avoid missing out on vital alerts. Here are some tips:
- Follow multiple sources of information. Don’t rely on just one account or platform for getting alerts. Check other sources such as websites, apps, radio, TV, or phone notifications.
- Turn on notifications for the accounts you follow. You can enable notifications for specific accounts on Twitter by tapping the bell icon next to the follow button. This way, you will get a push notification every time they tweet something. However, keep in mind that this might not work if the account has reached its limit and can’t tweet anymore.
- Contact your local public service providers and ask them to request a higher limit from Twitter. You can also voice your concerns to Twitter directly by using the feedback form or tweeting at @TwitterSupport. Let them know how important it is for public service accounts to be able to post all their alerts without any restrictions.
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