Don't deprecate the streaming API
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Twitter is an essential part of every day life for most people. It has gone from being a social hangout spot to being an outlet for realtime news and updates, a communication line for company support, and a platform to bring people together for just about anything. It has also been widely regarded as a highly accessible social network, thanks to its versatility with third party applications that utilize Twitter. A prime example of a use case for these applications is for the visually impaired. I am visually impaired myself, and I use applications like Chicken Nugget, TW Blue, as well as the more well known Tweetings and Twitterrific. These programs are very screenreader accessible, meaning they will speak everything and allow use of Twitter through a much more streamlined interface. These are programs that interact with Twitter through a robust API, receiving and sending tweets in realtime. This API is called the streaming API. This API is what Twitter plans to kill in August, and we cannot let that happen.
You may ask, why not just use the normal Twitter apps and web interface? Good question, but the short answer is, not that simple. While the accessibility team does do a decent job, the web is not everyone's cup of tea. The dynamic web is in constant flux. Plugins come and go, browser features are broken and fixed and then broken some more, even if they're minor bugs here and there. That isn't to say that always happens, but the point is that there's a lot more room for error in the web. Third party programs that use a Twitter API only have the problem of falling out of line with said API, which is a result of the developer not updating the program in time for the API change. Usually this only results in minor annoyances rather than a full breakage.
As for mobile, that also cannot satisfy everyone's needs. Do we all have a mobile phone? Probably, at least most folks do nowadays. Do we always care to use it when we're around the computer? No. At any rate, the mobile application can often be cluttered, and it also introduces the problem of touchscreen typing. Not everyone has a braille display, not everyone has a wearable keyboard, not everyone has, or cares to use, a Bluetooth keyboard. So what then? Back to the computer.
But wait, there are Twitter apps for the computer, right? Were, rather. For Windows 10, there is a Twitter app that has its own accessibility issues. Mac OSX saw a brief existence of a Twitter app before it ran its course a few months ago.
The point? Everything's moving toward the dynamic web and constantly changing apps. Why is this a problem? Even if the web interface of Twitter were in tip-top shape, constant web refreshes slow down a browser big-time. Even if the slowing down isn't as noticeable, the cursor can jump around, and that is a nuisance for screenreader users. Let's say someone is trying to keep an eye on their mentions for listener comments on a radio show. Imagine having to concentrate on said show, while reading your comments in a not so simple interface, and having the cursor jump around. Imagine the same computer you're broadcasting on being slowed down by refreshes. Those problems aren't present when third party apps are used.
For mobile, not everyone is going to have the Twitter app constantly in focus. A nice thing about third party apps is that they often contain invisible interfaces or hotkeys to bring the app into focus from anywhere. Invisible interfaces, often seen in apps like Chicken Nugget and TW Blue, allow use of the app through global hotkeys and a speech-only interface. This means that you can compose a tweet from anywhere in your computer. If you get a message while sorting out your calendar events, no problem, just hit the shortcut to reply, send your message off, and you're right back to where you were. After all, simplicity is key, right?
So why does the streaming API matter so much? IT's how all our tweets and messages come in as they arrive. It's how we can see interactions like new followers and reactions to tweets. It's how, through it all, tweets don't become dated the moment they arrive.
What will it mean for everyone if Twitter kills the streaming API?
Twitter's new account activity API is said to take its place, but looking over it the most important feature of realtime updating is not going to be present in the account activity API. This means that for you as the user, a lot of the applications you use, some of which you paid good money for, will cease functioning through no fault of the developers of said applications. For developers, it may mean potential removal of a market you've invested a lot of time and resources in making top-notch applications for. Long story short, it means the end of an era.
What do we want to accomplish from this petition? We want to convince Twitter to reconsider their position, and prevent them from #BreakingMyTwitter. If this petition wins, and the streaming API is kept in place, we can expect to continue to see the Twitter we know and love, and developers can continue making their great applications. Please consider signing this petition as well as either purchasing these applications or donating to the developers of the free ones, to keep Twitter alive for all! Thank you in advance for your consideration!
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