Twitter has placed a temporary limit on the number of tweets users can read in a day, Twitter owner Elon Musk said on Saturday.
In a tweet he authored, Musk said unverified accounts are now limited to reading 600 posts a day.
For new unverified accounts, reading is limited to 300 tweets. Meanwhile, accounts with a “verified” status are currently limited to reading 6,000 posts per day.
Musk said the temporary limits are to deal with “extreme levels of data extraction and system manipulation”.
Data scraping is a process where information is taken from a website and imported into another program. Musk did not elaborate, nor did he explain what he meant by “system manipulation” in this context.
Later, after complaints from users, Musk added that read limits “soon” should be increased to 800 tweets per day for unverified accounts, 400 for new unverified accounts, and 8,000 for verified accounts.
On Friday, those trying to access Twitter were told they had to log in to view content on the platform. The cap was an “emergency temporary measure,” Musk said at the time.
He claimed that the social media platform was “having data so plundered” that it was “degrading the service for normal users”.
According to the website Downdetector – which tracks online service outages – a peak of 5,126 people reported problems accessing the platform in the UK on Saturday afternoon.
In the US, about 7,461 people reported failures in this same period.
Artificial intelligence and Twitter Blue
It’s not entirely clear what Musk is referring to by “data mining”, but it appears he is referring to scraping large amounts of data used by artificial intelligence (AI) companies to train language models, which power chatbots like ChatGPT. from Open AI and Bardo from Google.
Large language models need to learn from large amounts of real human conversations. But quality is vital to the success of a chatbot.
The huge treasure trove of billions of posts on social networks like Reddit and Twitter is believed to be extremely important training data – and one that is being used by AI companies.
But platforms like Twitter and Reddit want to get paid for that data.
In April, Reddit’s chief executive, Steve Huffman, told The New York Times that he was dissatisfied with what AI companies were doing.
“Reddit’s corpus of data is really valuable,” he said. “But we don’t need to give all that value away for free to some of the biggest companies in the world.”
Twitter has already started charging users to access its application programming interface (API), which is often used by third-party apps and researchers — which may include AI companies.
But there are other potential reasons for the change announced on Saturday.
Musk has been trying to force people to join Twitter Blue, his paid subscription service. It’s possible he’s looking at a model where users will have to pay to get a full Twitter service — and access to unlimited posts.
The come and go of the verified
Signaled by a blue tick, “verified” status was granted free of charge by Twitter to high-profile accounts – such as famous people, companies and journalists – before Musk took over as boss.
Now, most users have to pay a subscription fee of $8 (about R$38) per month to be verified and it is possible to obtain status regardless of the nature of your profile.
Some high visibility accounts still have a verification badge despite not paying for it, although many temporarily lost their blue badges in April.
Musk bought the company last year for US$ 44 billion (about R$ 235 billion at the time), after many back and forth. He criticized Twitter’s previous management and said he didn’t want the platform to become an echo chamber.
Shortly after taking over, Musk reduced Twitter’s staff from just under 8,000 employees to around 1,500.
In an interview with the BBC, he said cutting jobs was not easy.
Engineers were included in the layoffs, and their departure raised concerns about the stability of the platform.
While Musk acknowledged some glitches, he told the BBC in April that the outages did not last long and that the site was working fine.