Guys, bad new, the Token limit has been reached sooner than expected. Getting reports that new users can't login... Thanks @twitter.— Falcon for Android (@falcon_android) February 23, 2013
Expect to see a lot more tweets like the one above in the near future as popular Twitter clients across a variety of platforms reach the 100,000 API token limit imposed by Twitter, forcing them to stop accepting new users.
If you’re not familiar with the idea of API tokens and Twitter’s arbitrarily-set limit, I’ll attempt to explain this very quickly. Essentially, every user that logs into any given Twitter app requires a special string of text (a token) in order to use that app. Due to recent changes, Twitter only allows apps to hand out 100,000 of these tokens. What that means is that 100,000 people are allowed to login to any given Twitter app ever. Now, it’s possible for users to revoke their token for an app if they don’t use that app anymore, but the majority of users won’t do that. If the token is revoked, someone else can take that user’s spot in the 100,000. If not, that user will be counted as one of those 100,000 tokens forever, even if they aren’t using the app. So if you buy a Twitter app, login, decide it sucks, then delete it, you have taken up one of those limited slots and wasted it.
When a Twitter app runs out of tokens, people will no longer be able to login through it. Twitter simply blocks all new logins. App developers can request more tokens from Twitter, but Twitter is not obligated to comply.
Twitter emailed me. They refuse to extend the token limit because Falcon doesn't provide any features that their app doesn't have already...— Falcon for Android (@falcon_android) February 26, 2013
Because of this, developers are forced to charge absurd amounts of money to ensure that only truly dedicated users will buy their apps, and that people who simply buy a cheap app and then stop using it won’t waste a token.
But what if there was a way around that limit? As it turns out, there kind of is, and it’s kind of a bad idea.