Critics have warned that the development of innovative products that integrate Twitter could be stifled after Twitter said that any new app that wants to serve more than 100,000 users must now seek the firm's permission.
The new rules, announced yesterday in a blog post, also mean that any apps that already have more than 100,000 users can expand by 200%, but then have to get Twitter's approval to grow further.
This forms part of changes to Twitter's Application Programming Interface (API), a device which allows one application to share content with another.
Twitter's API has already enabled the creation of various popular services, such as Hootsuite, Twitpic and Tweetdeck, which was bought by Twitter last year for more than £25m.
In a blog post, Twitter's MIchael Sippey said that the strict new guidelines were part of the microblogging site's efforts to "deliver a consistent Twitter experience".
To be rolled out in the "coming weeks", version 1.1 of the Twitter API will require every request to the API to be authenticated.
Sippey said that the current version of the API allows developers to access public information "without us knowing who they are".
"For example, there are many applications that are pulling data from the Twitter API at very high rates (scraping, bots, etc.) where we only know the IP address of the applications," he wrote.
"To prevent malicious use of the Twitter API and gain an understanding of what types of applications are accessing the API in order to evolve it to meet the needs of developers, it's important to have visibility into the activity on the Twitter API and the applications using the platform."
Sippey said that any apps that believe they will reach 100,000 individual user tokens, meaning individual users, will have to get permission directly from Twitter.
Any businesses expecting more than 1m individual users will also be offered 'guidance' by Twitter on how best to gear their service, he added.
"One of the key things we've learned over the past few years is that when developers begin to demand an increasingly high volume of API calls, we can guide them toward areas of value for users and their businesses," he said.
"To that end, and similar to some other companies, we will require you to work with us directly if you believe your application will need more than one million individual user tokens.
"If you are building a Twitter client application that is accessing the home timeline, account settings or direct messages API endpoints (typically used by traditional client applications) or are using our User Streams product, you will need our permission if your application will require more than 100,000 individual user tokens.
"We will not be shutting down client applications that use those endpoints and are currently over those token limits. If your application already has more than 100,000 individual user tokens, you'll be able to maintain and add new users to your application until you reach 200% of your current user token count (as of today) - as long as you comply with our Rules of the Road.
"Once you reach 200% of your current user token count, you'll be able to maintain your application to serve your users, but you will not be able to add additional users without our permission."
Following the announcement, the term "Twitter's API" has been trending on the microblogging site.
Twitter's new system for third-party apps will not have an immediate impact on its users, but it has been widely criticised by developers.
Alongside the restrictions outlined above, there are also further new rules about the embedding of tweets and the layout of messages on third party sites.
Marco Arment, the creator of popular reading service Instapaper, said that developers building apps on Twitter should now "start working on another product".
Arment noted that many apps on Twitter's platform compete with it to some degree, and so the firm "doesn't need a lot of its nontrivial apps, and in fact, they'd be happier if most of them disappeared".
"Twitter has left themselves a lot of wiggle room with the rules," he wrote in a blog post.
"Effectively, Twitter can decide your app is breaking a (potentially vague) rule at any time, or they can add a new rule that your app inadvertently breaks, and revoke your API access at any time.
"Of course, they've always had this power. But now we know that they'll use it in ways that we really don't agree with. I sure as hell wouldn't build a business on Twitter, and I don't think I'll even build any nontrivial features on it anymore."