In the wake of the devastating earthquakes in Turkey and Syria, thousands of volunteer software developers are using an important Twitter tool to search the platform for calls for help – including from people stranded in collapsed buildings – and connect people with rescue organizations, 25 News Now reports.
But they could soon lose their access if they don’t pay Twitter a monthly fee of at least $100, which is unaffordable for many volunteers and nonprofits with limited budgets.
“It’s not just the rescue efforts that are unfortunately coming to an end, but also the logistics planning as people go to Twitter to communicate their needs.”
says Sedat Kapanoglu, founder of Eksi Sozluk, Turkey’s most popular social media platform, who advises some of the volunteers.
Nonprofits, researchers, and others need the tool known as an API (Application Programming Interface) to analyze data from Twitter because the vast amount of information prevents a person from reviewing it by hand.
Kapanoglu also says that hundreds of “good Samaritans” have given away their own, paid API access keys (Twitter now offers a paid version with more features) for use in rescue efforts. But he says this is “not a sustainable or correct way” to do it. It might even be against Twitter’s rules.
The loss of free API access means an added challenge for the thousands of developers in Turkey and beyond who are working around the clock to harness Twitter’s unique, open ecosystem for disaster relief.
“For Turkish coders working with Twitter API for disaster monitoring purposes, this is particularly worrying — and I’d imagine it is similarly worrying for others around the world that are using Twitter data to monitor emergencies and politically contested events,”
said Akin Unver, a professor of international relations at Ozyegin University in Istanbul.
The new fees are just the latest complication for programmers, academics and others trying to use the API — and they say communicating with anyone at the company has become essentially impossible since Elon Musk took over.
The new fees are another test for programmers, scientists and others trying to use APIs. They say communication with anyone in the company has become impossible since Elon Musk took over.