Monday, February 20, 2023

Enshittification and Meta, Twitter, Bing


Twitter Blue is an opt-in, paid subscription that adds a blue checkmark to your account and offers early access to select features, like Edit Tweet.

Twitter Blue subscribers who joined for $7.99 on iOS will be notified by Apple that their subscription will be automatically renewed for $11/month (or your local pricing) unless they choose to cancel their subscription.

Those who initially subscribed on iOS for $2.99 or $4.99/month will need to upgrade their subscription for $8/month or $84/year on web or $11/month on iOS (or the local pricing), or lose their subscription.

Mark Zuckerberg (via Facebook):

This week we're starting to roll out Meta Verified -- a subscription service that lets you verify your account with a government ID, get a blue badge...Meta Verified starts at $11.99 / month on web or $14.99 / month on iOS.

This is clearly inspired by Twitter's "Twitter Blue"; however, I wonder how much of this decision was driven by the need for extra revenue now that Apple is attempting to choke off some of Meta's ad revenue.

Juli Clover (via Michael Tsai):

Instagram and Facebook are monetized through advertising at the current time, but changes like Apple’s App Tracking Transparency can make ads an unreliable revenue stream. Subscription payments will give Facebook a steady monthly income.

Twitter has also removed the free tier of their API access--a feature used by thousands of developers to make excellent and low-cost apps.  


A week after Twitter made the announcement about shutting down free access to the API, the company said today that it will charge $100 per month for the basic tier of API. This will get developers access to a “low level of API usage” — without specifying what that exactly means — and the Ads API.

Last week’s announcement drew a lot of criticism from developers — especially folks who made fun bots posting information or pictures. 

Apart from this, people have also pointed out that engineers building solutions for natural disasters like earthquakes also rely on Twitter API. So discontinuing the free tier will affect those solutions.

Akin Unver (via Twitter):

Couldn't come at a worse time. Most analysts and programmers that are building apps and functions for Turkey earthquake aid and relief, and are literally saving lives, are reliant on Twitter API. Any limit/structure/architecture change will make everyone's life difficult.

Microsoft saw this and followed suit:


The existing Microsoft Bing Search APIs will increase in price effective May 1, 2023. The price increase will apply to all markets.


Today, Microsoft sent shockwaves to the developers who rely on Microsoft Bing Search APIs by announcing price increase. This is not a usual nominal price increase update. With the new changes, pricing of some of the APIs have gone up to 10x. Yes, 10x.

Optional Bing Statistics Add-in which used to cost $1 per 1,000 transactions will now cost $10 per 1,000 transactions.

The above pricing equates to $0.028/query for less than 1M requests/day and a whopping $.20/query for over 1M requests/day. 

I spend a lot of time working with both free and paid APIs, I genuinely can't remember ever seeing one with $0.20 per query on any tier. That would be a completely prohibiting price tier for an independent developer, or developers providing a primarily free service. 

Michael Tsai

This sounds like a problem for DuckDuckGo and other search engines that rely on Bing, unless they have special long-term deals.

Cory Doctorow has a fantastic blog post about "enshittification," a term he coined describing how platforms crumble after locking in customers with appealing services before abusing them to milk every last ounce of profit, rendering the service unusable. Watching Meta, Twitter, and Bing riff terrible anti-customer ideas off of each other is very reminiscent of this.

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