Twitter Implements Temporary Reading Limits to Tackle Data Scraping

Twitter has implemented temporary limitations on the number of tweets users can read in a day, according to Elon Musk, the platform’s owner. In a tweet, Musk stated that unverified accounts are now restricted to reading 1,000 posts daily, while new unverified accounts are limited to 500 posts. Verified accounts currently have a limit of 10,000 posts per day. Initially, stricter limits were set, but Musk adjusted them shortly after the announcement.

The temporary restrictions aim to address the “extreme levels of data scraping and system manipulation,” although Musk did not provide specific details about the latter. The purpose is to mitigate the adverse effects of extensive data pilfering, which has been degrading service quality for regular users. This measure is considered a temporary emergency action.

The concept of data scraping refers to the extraction of information from the internet, particularly relevant for training large language models used in AI applications like chatbots. Platforms like Twitter and Reddit possess vast repositories of valuable data, which AI companies typically use for training their models. However, platforms now seek compensation for granting access to this data. Twitter has already introduced charges for its application programming interface (API) access, often utilized by third-party apps and researchers, including AI companies.

The move by Musk may also be connected to his promotion of Twitter Blue, the platform’s paid subscription service. There is speculation that Musk might be considering a model where users would need to pay for full access to Twitter, including unlimited posts. The “verified” status, symbolized by a blue tick, was previously given to high-profile accounts for free. However, under Musk’s leadership, most users now have to pay a subscription fee for verification, independent of their profile.

The recent restrictions sparked technical issues, with thousands of users reporting problems accessing the platform. Initially, Musk had announced different reading limits, which were subsequently revised due to the aggressive data scraping activities by several hundred organizations. The strain on the platform’s servers led to emergency measures, including the deployment of additional servers to handle the load.

While the move to limit users’ scroll time appears unusual and potentially impacting advertising revenue, Musk’s acquisition of Twitter in 2022 for $44 billion aimed to prevent the platform from becoming an echo chamber. Despite layoffs and concerns about stability, Musk has expressed that the site has been functioning adequately with occasional outages. The temporary restrictions are an attempt to address immediate challenges related to data scraping and system manipulation.

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