Elon Musk faces backlash after announcing a temporary limit on the number of posts Twitter users can read daily.
The tech billionaire, who bought the social media platform in December for $44bn, initially said unverified accounts would be limited to 600 posts daily, while newer unverified versions would be restricted to just 300.
People with verified accounts – by paying for a Twitter Blue subscription – would get to view 6,000 posts per day, Musk added.
A few hours later, Musk said this would be raised to 10,000 for verified users and 1,000 and 500 for unverified and new unverified accounts, respectively.
The Tesla and SpaceX CEO said the limit is a measure to “address extreme levels of data scraping & system manipulation”.
Musk didn’t elaborate on who was collecting this data or how the system was being manipulated, but he has expressed concerns about this issue.
Many users found themselves locked out of Twitter on Saturday and were met with a message saying “rate limit exceeded”, with Twitter down and RIPTwitter trending on the site.
Managing the Spread of Misinformation and Spam
The move prompted backlash from users, some of whom saw it as a tactic to gain more Twitter Blue subscribers, while others speculated it could be related to 80% of Twitter’s 8,000 global staff being fired after Musk’s takeover.
Here, Yahoo News explains the latest technical issue faced by Twitter since Musk bought the micro-blogging site.
Twitter has begun limiting the number of tweets people can read, Elon Musk has announced.
Mr Musk, who took over Twitter in October after buying it for 44 billion dollars (£35.5 billion), declared on Saturday that verified accounts are limited to reading 6,000 posts daily.
Unverified accounts can only read 600 posts a day, with new unverified accounts limited to just 300 per day, he said – though he later added: “Rate limits increasing soon to 8,000 for verified, 800 for unverified & 400 for new unverified.”
The Tesla and SpaceX CEO said Twitter had imposed the “temporary limit” to “address extreme levels of data scraping & system manipulation”.
But the move sparked a scathing response from many users, including Matt Navarra, a social media consultant and industry analyst, who told the P.A. news agency: “Never have I seen a social network try so hard to put people off using a platform and to curtail any potential future for its business completely.”
And Adam Leon Smith of BCS, The Chartered Institute for I.T. – the U.K.’s professional body for I.T., said it is “very odd to start rate-limiting the reading of a social network”, as limiting users’ scroll time “will affect advertising revenue”.
Elon Musk said on Saturday that Twitter would temporarily limit the number of posts users can read per day to address concerns over data scraping, just hours after thousands of users reported widespread problems using the site.
Feedback and Criticism from Users
Many users reported getting an error message that they had “exceeded” their “rate limit,” suggesting that they had violated Twitter’s rules and downloaded and viewed too many tweets.
On Friday, Mr Musk said that “several hundred organizations” were taking Twitter’s data in a process called scraping and that “it was affecting the real user experience,” he did not say how long the limits would last or what could prompt him to lift the restriction.
He initially said that verified accounts would be limited to reading 6,000 posts daily, unverified accounts to 600 posts and new unverified accounts to 300 seats.
The billionaire has been vocal about disliking organizations that scrape Twitter and use tweets to research or train artificial intelligence programs.
But the change on Saturday prompted frustration on the platform among some users, with many questioning why their online activity would be so drastically curtailed.
The phrase “rate limit exceeded” trended on Twitter, spurring memes about people inconvenienced by the new policy. Downdetector, a website that tracks reports of malfunctions on several websites, showed that user reports of Twitter problems surged on Saturday.
Other users had more pragmatic concerns, including how the daily limits could affect how people monitor severe weather on the platform, which often involves scrolling through dozens of updates, alerts and warnings.
“This Twitter change today is a total dumpster fire,” James Spann, a meteorologist in Alabama, said on Twitter. “Unless something changes, this platform is useless for those in the weather enterprise.”
An email to Twitter’s communications department seeking comment was returned with a poop emoji.
Public Perception and Future Outlook
Since Mr Musk’s takeover in October and his moves to eliminate more than 75 per cent of the company’s workforce, Twitter has become less stable, with features or the whole site sometimes needing explanation.
On Saturday, engineers in the company raced to diagnose the problem in private Slack channels, according to two employees. Those people said that Twitter salespeople asked what they should tell their advertising clients as they realized that some ads were not displayed on the social network.
Twitter’s U.S. advertising revenue for the five weeks from April 1 to the first week of May was $88 million, down 59 per cent from a year earlier, according to an internal presentation obtained by The New York Times.
The company needs to catch up to its U.S. weekly sales projections, sometimes by as much as 30 per cent, the document said.
The frenetic changes at Twitter have continued to motivate some users to try other similar social media sites, such as Mastodon, which aims to be a “viable alternative to Twitter,” and Bluesky. This social network offers many of the same core features that Twitter does.
Bluesky is currently invitation-only, but on Saturday, the company’s name was trending on Twitter.