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Twitter to Implement OAuth as Future Authentication Method

Recent events have pulled Twitter’s authentication methods even further into the limelight. People are becoming increasingly concerned about the safety of their profile and everything associated with it. What’s Twitter going to do about it, and when?

Twitter is working on a beta release of OAuth

Engineer/API Lead Alex Payne commented on the Twitter Development Talk group that the User Experience team is putting the finishing touches on a beta release of an OAuth implementation. This comment was made in November and mentioned a release toward the end of December. Since then, Payne has also said they (Twitter) will be experimenting with it after the first of the year.

The next full release of the API will be by OAuth authentication only

That only makes logical sense, right? After all, you have to eliminate all the weakest links to make a stronger chain. Also, using OAuth will decouple API rights from the general access rights used on the web. In turn, you’ll see more granularity of access control using OAuth, which is something BasicAuth sucks at.

Unintended Consequences of Better Security

For starters, OAuth is much more difficult for third-party developers to implement than BasicAuth is. It’s a new set of tools and technologies that most people aren’t really that familiar with. OAuth also entails bouncing around to the browser while authenticating, much like OpenID does. Once you allow your app once, you should be able to have it remember that and be fine on subsequent authentication attempts. However, it’s going to confuse a ton of people the first time. OAuth is not a security silver bullet, but is a step in the right direction. ( Payne’s words on OAuth )

Our Plea

Twitter: please don’t give up on this. We can’t stand to see it go the way of Track or IM. We desperately need to feel safe when using our credentials as recent events have given you a bit of a black eye. OAuth, OpenID, we don’t care - just make us feel warm and fuzzy inside.


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