Twitter users are experiencing ongoing confusion following the introduction of post limits by owner Elon Musk. The billionaire implemented these "temporary measures" to address the extensive data scraping taking place on the platform. Initially, the limits were increased over the weekend after their initial implementation.
While many users reported no longer seeing limits on Sunday, some users encountered a "rate limit exceeded" notification on Monday, indicating that the restrictions were still in place.
Elon Musk, who took over Twitter in October 2022, expressed his dissatisfaction with artificial intelligence (AI) firms using Twitter's data to train their large language models. As a result, the platform underwent changes over the weekend, imposing an initial 600-tweet limit for unverified Twitter users who do not have a subscription. However, Mr. Musk announced that this limit had been increased to 1,000 on Saturday evening.
It remains unclear whether these limits will continue to be enforced, as Elon Musk has not provided an update on the matter.
AI Concerns and Financial Motivations
In response to a user flagging issues with site features, Elon Musk tweeted on Saturday morning that Twitter had implemented these measures due to "EXTREME levels of data scraping." Data scraping is a process commonly used to gather content and information from web platforms, involving the extraction of data from sites at a large scale for further analysis.
Mr. Musk expressed his frustration, stating that numerous AI companies, ranging from start-ups to major corporations, were scraping vast amounts of data. He emphasized the inconvenience of having to deploy additional servers on an emergency basis to support the valuation of AI start-ups.
Similar concerns regarding the mass utilization of platform data to train AI models led Reddit to require companies to pay for access to its data.
Dr. Rumman Chowdhury, a data scientist and former Twitter employee, commented that it is uncertain whether AI organizations were scraping data from Twitter. However, she suggested that financial issues could be a factor behind these changes. Dr. Chowdhury stated, "Frankly, I think I'm in the majority of people who believe that it's due to his lack of payment of his bills... and he's attempting to reduce his costs."
Recent lawsuits against Twitter reinforce these financial concerns. An Australian project management firm filed a lawsuit seeking cumulative payments of about A$1m (£534,000) for alleged non-payment of bills in multiple countries. Additionally, other lawsuits have been filed by a former public relations firm and an advisory firm seeking payment for unpaid bills.
Impact on Twitter Engagement and Revenue
Since Elon Musk acquired Twitter, he has been focused on cost reduction, which included laying off half the workforce and introducing a subscription service that offers the highly sought-after "verified" badge for a monthly fee.
However, implementing post limits seems to contradict the need for user engagement on the platform. Dr. Chowdhury referred to this tactic as a "very extreme and unprecedented tactic" that is already proving ineffective. Twitter has witnessed advertisers fleeing due to concerns about Mr. Musk's approach to content moderation rules, resulting in negative effects on the platform's revenue.
Despite Elon Musk's claim in April that Twitter is "roughly breaking even" and most advertisers are returning, the introduction of post limits may impact the platform's ability to attract and retain users and advertisers.
Impact on Journalists and Real-time Reporting
The implementation of tweet limits has affected journalists who rely on Twitter for live reporting and story verification. Bel Trew, chief international correspondent for The Independent, expressed her frustration on Twitter, stating that the limits on the number of tweets she could read had left her "at a complete loss" while reporting on Sunday.
In another instance, a reporter in Baltimore, USA, was unable to view tweets from the local police department's Twitter account following a shooting incident that resulted in two deaths and 28 injuries.
The ongoing confusion and limitations imposed on Twitter raise concerns about the platform's ability to serve as a reliable source of real-time information and news verification for journalists and users alike.
Technomancer is a science and tech enthusiast who enjoys writing about software and AI and other tech topics.