A new permission level

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Matt Harris

May 18, 2011, 1:01:41 PM5/18/11
to Twitter Development Talk
Hey everyone,

We recently updated our OAuth screens to give users greater transparency about the level of access applications have to their accounts. The valuable feedback Twitter users and developers have given us played a large part in that redesign and helped us identify where we can do more.

In particular, users and developers have requested greater granularity for permission levels.

In response to this feedback, we have created a new permission level for applications called “Read, Write & Direct Messages”. This permission will allow an application to read or delete a user's direct messages. When we enforce this permission, applications without a “Read, Write & Direct Messages” token will be unable to read or delete direct messages. To ensure users know that an application is receiving access to their direct messages, we are also restricting this permission to the OAuth /authorize web flow only. This means applications which use xAuth and want to access direct messages must send a user through the full OAuth flow.

What does this mean for your application?
If you do not need access to direct messages: you won’t need to make any changes to your application. When we enforce the new permission level your read or read/write token will automatically lose access to direct messages.

If you do need access to direct messages: you will need to edit your application record on https://dev.twitter.com/apps and change the permission level of your application to “Read, Write and Direct Messages”. The new permission will not affect existing tokens which means existing users or your app or service will need to reauthorize.

We know this will take some time so we are allowing a transition period until the end of this month. During this time there will be no change to the access Read/Write tokens have to a users account. However, at the end of the month any tokens which have not been upgrade to “Read, Write and Direct Messages” will be unable to access and delete direct messages.

Affected APIs and requests
On the REST API, Read and Read/Write applications will no longer be able to use these API methods:

For the Streaming API, both User Streams and Site Streams will only receive direct messages if the user has authorised an application to access direct messages.

Applications that use “Sign-in with Twitter” or xAuth will only be able to receive Read or Read/Write tokens.

What this means is only applications which direct a user through the OAuth web flow will be able to receive access tokens that allow access to direct messages. Any other method of authorization, including xAuth, will only be able to receive Read/Write tokens.

What will happen when the permission is activated
When we activate the new permission, all Read and Read/Write user_tokens issued to third-party applications will lose their ability to read direct messages. Any attempt to read direct messages will result in an HTTP 403 error being returned.

For example, a GET request to https://api.twitter.com/1/direct_messages/sent.json will return an HTTP 403 Forbidden with the response body:

{"errors":[{"code":93,"message":"This application is not allowed to access or delete your direct messages"}]}

Key Points
* If you wish to access a user’s direct messages you will need to update your application and reauthorize existing tokens.
* The only way to get direct message access is to request access through the OAuth /authorize web flow. You will not be permitted to access direct messages if you use xAuth.
* When we enforce the permission Read/Write and Read tokens will be unable to access and delete direct messages.
* Read/Write tokens will be able to send direct messages after the permission is enforced.

We’ll be collating responses and adding more information on our developer resources permission model page: https://dev.twitter.com/pages/application-permission-model

We have also blogged about this on the Twitter blog: http://blog.twitter.com/2011/05/mission-permission.html

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