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Twitter restricts access to tweets and implements view limit

  • You now need to register for a Twitter account to view Tweets.
  • However, once registered you will only be able to view 500 tweets per day.
  • These restrictions have been placed on all users in a bid to fight off scrappers and AI firms.

At the weekend sweeping changes were implemented at Twitter that have many questioning whether Elon Musk has a plan for the platform.

On Friday afternoon, websites that embedded Tweets found that those embeds were now broken. At first, many thought this was just the latest break for a website that tends to break down at least once a week. However, it was soon discovered that this was intentional on Twitter’s behalf, although one had to dig through Musk’s replies, which are scattered with single word responses and the “laugh crying emoji”.

“Several hundred organizations (maybe more) were scraping Twitter data extremely aggressively, to the point where it was affecting the real user experience. What should we do to stop that? I’m open to ideas,” Musk asked Tim Sweeney.

In response, Sweeney recommended securing Twitter’s borders through cybersecurity and policy, to which Musk responded with “Lmaooo”.

And then, unbelievably, it got worse.

On Saturday, users began receiving messages stating “Rate Limit Exceeded”. This meant that folks couldn’t see tweets on their timeline. Once again, many assumed this was a bug, but it turns out its a feature designed to punish scrapers.

To do that, Musk declared that Twitter Blue subscribers could view 6 000 tweets a day, unverified accounts 600 tweets a day and unverified accounts could view 300 tweets per day.

This was later increased to 10 000 for Twitter Blue subscribers, 1 000 for unverified accounts and 500 for new accounts.

The overarching goal here is to stop the likes of OpenAI, Google and other AI businesses from scraping Twitter’s ever-growing corpus of data to train their models. While we understand that goal, limiting tweets, closing off the “global town square” and locking previously basic features like MFA behind a paywall, just comes across as a company throwing things at the wall and hoping something sticks.

For local businesses which are increasingly using Twitter for customer support, this is terrible news. Worse still, the likes of Eskom, the Presidency and other organs of state have used Twitter as a way to quickly disseminate information to the masses. While not everybody has a Twitter account, one could at the very least view a tweet when it was linked to you. Now you not only need an account, you need to hope that you haven’t viewed 500 tweets before you’re sent an important tweet.

We have to wonder how advertisers are reacting to these limitations placed on users as it effectively limits how many people will see advertising. Speaking anecdotally, since these limits were imposed we’ve spent far less time on the platform. It also doesn’t help that with four people managing the Hypertext Twitter account, our Rate Limit was reached before we managed to get a cup of coffee in.

As we’ve said before, Musk did pay $44 billion for this company and he can run it however he wants. We just hope that he understands users don’t have to stick around as he tries to figure things out.

Perhaps Zuckerberg can knock some sense into Musk, if the billionaires ever fight.

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