Twitter shifts course, allowing governments to post automated weather alerts and transit updates ‘for free'

Twitter will allow government agencies to post large volumes of automated tweets for free.

Twitter shifts course, allowing governments to post automated weather alerts and transit updates ‘for free'


Twitter announced Tuesday that it would allow public institutions, such as transit agencies or the National Weather Service, to send large amounts of automated tweets without charge. The accounts must be'verified government or publicly owned services'.

This announcement is a sudden change in Twitter's attempt to charge institutional users to access its platform. It's a concession to those who have warned against Twitter's plan to implement a paywall, which would prevent consumers from receiving timely updates about first responders and weather agencies.

Last week, the Metropolitan Transit Authority of New York announced that it would no longer post real-time transit updates on Twitter. The authority cited reliability issues with Twitter and said it did not pay tech platforms to be able to provide these updates. In recent weeks, several regional accounts of the National Weather Service warned their followers that they should expect less weather updates due to Twitter's changes.

The change on Tuesday comes in the wake of a backlash against Twitter's paid plans. These plans cost up to $2.5 million per annum for access privileges that allow organizations to automatically download and post huge volumes of tweets.

The March changes restricted third-party access to Twitter's API, which is the technology that allows external software to be plugged into Twitter's platform. Third-party developers who depended on Twitter's uninterrupted access as well as academic researchers studying platform manipulation and misinformation were particularly opposed to the changes.

Twitter's official developer account acknowledged on Tuesday the impact that the company's paid wall could have on civil societies.

It said that 'public utility' was one of the most significant uses for the Twitter API. Verified government or publicly-owned services that tweet weather alerts and transport updates, as well as emergency notifications, may use the API for free.

Twitter's announcement was ambiguous about how it planned to'verify' critical accounts for public safety and transit.

Twitter Blue's requirement that accounts be verified could force institutions to pay for access to Twitter's API.