Access Denied: Twitter Changes Login Rules for Apps

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Twitter’s just announced changes to the way third party clients have to connect users to the service, and has upset a few apple carts along the way.

In an official announcement headlined Mission: Permission, Twitter’s Jodi Olsen wrote:

“Beginning today, we’re giving you more control over what information you share with third-party applications. Apps that you use to access your direct messages will ask for your permission again.”

What’s happened behind the scenes? A switch to a different sort of authentication system.

When you’re setting up a new third-party Twitter client, it verifies your identity by simply asking for your username and password. You type (or tap) them in, and you’re good to go.

The new system works differently. To set up your new third party client, the client has to send you to a web page on Twitter.com, which displays information to you about what that client wants permission to see, alongside a big “Authorize it” button.

Once that’s done, you return to the client and complete the setup.

Developers, though, are annoyed that the simpler “enter your password” system is being abandoned. They argue that having to send users to a browser, then get them back again afterwards, makes things more complicated than they need to be.

Over the next few weeks, developers will have to update their software to support the new system, and any of their users who want access to Direct Messages will have to activate it through that system, even if they’ve previously approved the same app using the old system.

Doesn’t sound so bad? Well, that depends. Tech commentator John Gruber didn’t mince his words in a strongly-worded (i.e., not safe for work) critique of the decision.

He said it will make life particularly more difficult for people with more than one Twitter account, who will find themselves bouncing between app and browser, logging themselves in and out of the the web-based version in order to complete the authorization process for each account.

A storm in a teacup, or a sign that Twitter is demanding too much?

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