Twitter Starts Charging $500,000 for Free Tool, Putting War Crime and Misinformation Research at Risk

Elon Musk has been making a lot of controversial decisions after taking control of Twitter, but his latest move might prove to be the most controversial of all. Previously, researchers had unrestricted access to Twitter’s API. This enabled them to obtain data that is often used as evidence against war criminals in international courts. It is also useful in disaster response attempts, as well as general research pertaining to misinformation.

With all of that having been said and now out of the way, it is important to note that Elon Musk will now be charging anywhere from $42,000 to $210,000 per month for API access. Many are calling this a bad move because of the fact that this is the sort of thing that could potentially end up inhibiting disaster response efforts, making it harder to find evidence for war crimes as well as contribute to the spread of misinformation online.

This isn’t the first time that Elon Musk started charging for a once free tool or service. The famous blue checkmark used to be offered free of charge in order to help public figures distinguish themselves from impersonates and parody accounts. While this is just the latest in a long line of questionable decisions, it goes far beyond the dangers of monetizing the blue checkmark with all things having been considered and taken into account.

Humans rights activists are condemning this move since it puts profit over human lives. Online research of rights violations is critical to making these instances less frequent than might have been the case otherwise, and Musk just made it a lot harder for researchers to get the data they need.

US lawmakers have also voiced their concerns, such as Lori Trahan who pointed out the challenges that researchers will face after this latest move. It will be interesting to see what the fallout from this change looks like. It may very well continue the downward spiral that Twitter has been on for so many years, which was only made worse when Musk was forced to honor his 44 billion dollar offer.


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