Authentication with rtweet

In previous versions rtweet provided a default authentication mechanism shared by all rtweet users. This is no longer possible, if you want to use it you’ll need to create your own authentication.

The authentication mechanism is using your own app authentication. It allows you to act on behalf of your personal Twitter account, as if you were performing actions on

You will need an app authentication, which allows you to act as if you were a Twitter app.

Then we will see how to set the default authentication mechanism for the current R session, and how to save it so you can use it in a future session.


Creating a Twitter app

You’re already familiar with using twitter, either through the website or an app that you installed on your phone or computer. To use twitter from R, you’ll need to learn a little more about what’s going on behind the scenes. The first important concept to grasp is that every request to the Twitter API has to go through an “app”. Normally, someone else has created the app for you, but now that you’re using twitter programmatically, you can create your own app. (It’s still called an app even though you’ll be using it through an R package).

To create a Twitter app, you need to first apply for a developer account by following the instructions at Once you have been approved (which may take several hours), navigate to the developer portal and click the “Create App” button at the bottom of the page. You’ll need to name your app: the name is unimportant for our purposes, but needs to be unique across all twitter apps.

After you’ve created your app, you’ll see a screen that gives you some information. You’ll only see this once:

You can always regenerate new values by clicking the “regenerate” button on the “keys and tokens” page.


Now that you have an app registered on, you have to tell rtweet about it.

New functions require a different authentication mechanism1. This functions will need you to first set up a client, which requires your client id and secret.

After selecting your app2 we created in the first section, you first need to fill the details of the “User authentication settings”:

Choose one of the App permissions: Read, Read and write, or Read and write and Direct message
In Type of App select Native app. In App info set the callback URI to:

The callback URI is important as this is what rtweet will use to validate.

The clients are under “Key and tokens” tab, check the top. At the last section of the tab, there is the section "Auth 2.0 Client ID and Client Secret":

Screenshot showing what to look to get the OAuth credentials
Screenshot showing what to look to get the OAuth credentials

Use these client ID and client secret to set up your client app in R:

client <- rtweet_client(app = "my_app")

Once you get your client you’ll need to tell rtweet to use it (that’s why we use client_as()).

This authentication only last for 2 hours, you’ll be asked to renew the authorization if it is expired.

This is all you need to do in future R sessions:


The functions that use the API v2 will use this client and the related authentication mechanism to validate your request. You might get prompted to approve the app every two hours.

Authentications sitrep

On the rtweet 1.0.0 version there were some changes on the default location of the tokens.

If you upgrade or want a complete check up of your authentications you can use auth_sitrep(). It can help when regenerating credentials and to follow best practices when upgrading rtweet. It will print something like these:

## Tokens from rtweet version < 1.0.0 found on /home/user:
## Empty tokens were found.
## Choose which is the best path of action for the tokens:
##                              user_id  key
## .rtweet_token.rds      My app         <NA>
## .rtweet_token1.rds My account            A
## Tokens found on /home/user/.config/R/rtweet:
##             token
## my-app2.rds     A
## Multiple authentications with the same app found!
## Choose which is the best path of action for the tokens:
##                       app    user_id key
## default.rds        rtweet 9951053384   A
## testing_rtweet.rds rtweet              B
## All tokens should be moved to /home/user/.config/R/rtweet

First looks up old authentications rtweet saved at your home directory (~, or $HOME) as it did on rtweet < 1.0.0. Then it reports the authentications found on the new location (rtweet >= 1.0.0). For each folder it reports apps and then users and bots authentications. It is safe to use in public, as instead of the tokens or keys it reports a letter. For users authentications it reports the user_id, so that you can check who is that user (user_search("1251053384")).

This makes it easier to see if there is a saved authentication with a name not matching the user_id. It also warns you if there is the same key or token for multiple files, as this indicates a misunderstanding or a duplication of the authentication.

Old authentication process

After the API v1.1 was closed to most users this previous forms of authentication are deprecated or do not work well.

From rtweet 2.0.0 I will not maintain them, I leave these here in case someone needs them for references


To use app based authentication, run this code:

auth <- rtweet_app()

This will prompt you to enter the bearer token that you recorded earlier.

It’s good practice to only provide secrets interactively, because that makes it harder to accidentally share them in either your .Rhistory or an .R file.


You can call auth_as() to set this as the default for the remainder of the session:


Similarly you can use by default a client.


Saving and loading

auth_as() only lasts for a single session; if you close and re-open R, you’d need to repeat the whole process (generate the tokens and pass them to rtweet_app()). This would be annoying (!) so rtweet also provides a way to save and reload authentications across sessions:

auth_save(auth, "some-name")

The second argument to auth_save() can be any string. It just needs to be meaningful to you so that you remember exactly what you’re loading when you use it a future session:


You can see all the authentication options you have saved with auth_list(). auth_list() reports all the available authentications at the default location (See auth_save() details). If you use an authentication saved on a different path you can directly use it auth_as("../authentications/rtweet.rds")

So, after your initial setup you can start all your scripts with auth_as("default") to load it.

Clients work similarly, but the client will be saved with the name of the app you provided:


On continuous integration workflows

On continuous integration you need to provide the keys and tokens as secret variables. Otherwise anyone with access to the logs of those checks might use your keys and tokens. Check your CI documentation about how to do that, but it might be something similar to what Github does. Where secrets are created as environmental variables.

You will need to provide a name of your variable, try to be informative (RTWEET_BEARER, RTWEET_API_KEY, RTWEET_API_SECRET, RTWEET_TOKEN, RTWEET_SECRET).

Usually you later need to load them from the environmental variables and create the token on the CI:

app <- rtweet_app(bearer_token = Sys.getenv("RTWEET_BEARER"))

Don’t leave the arguments without values as this won’t authenticate. Also do not print RTWEET_BEARER or other secrets.

  1. Called OAuth 2↩︎

  2. You can find your apps at the developer dashboard.↩︎