- author, Malo Corsino
- roll, BBC News
Social network owner Elon Musk said Saturday that Twitter has placed a temporary limit on the number of tweets users can read in a day.
In a tweet he wrote, Musk said that unverified accounts are now limited to reading 600 posts per day.
For new, unverified accounts, reading is limited to 300 tweets. Meanwhile, accounts with “verified” status are currently limited to reading 6,000 posts per day.
Musk said the temporary restrictions are to deal with “extreme levels of data mining and system manipulation.”
Data scraping is a process where information is taken from a website and imported into another program. Musk didn’t provide more details, nor explain what he meant by “gaming the system” in this context.
Later, after complaints from users, Musk added that reading limits should be increased “soon” 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. Musk said at the time that the cap was an “emergency temporary measure.”
He claimed that the social media platform was “ridden with data theft” to the point where it was “degrading service to regular users”.
According to Downdetector – which tracks outages online – 5,126 people reported problems accessing the platform in the UK on Saturday afternoon.
In the United States, about 7,461 people reported failures in the same period.
Artificial Intelligence and Twitter Blue
It’s not entirely clear what Musk is referring to as “data mining,” but it seems to refer to the collection of large amounts of data that artificial intelligence (AI) companies use to train language models, which power chatbots like ChatGPT. From Open AI and Pardo from Google.
Large language models need to learn from large amounts of real human conversations. But quality is vital to a chatbot’s success.
The massive hoard of billions of posts from social networks like Reddit and Twitter is believed to be very important training data – and one used by AI companies.
But platforms like Twitter and Reddit want to get paid for that data.
In April, Reddit CEO Steve Hoffman told The New York Times that he was unhappy with what AI companies were doing.
“The Reddit dataset is really valuable,” he said. “But we don’t need to give all that value for free to some of the biggest companies in the world.”
Twitter has already started charging users for access to its Application Programming Interface (API), which is often used by third-party apps and researchers — which may include AI companies.
But there are other possible reasons for the change, announced on Saturday.
Musk is trying to force people to join Twitter Blue, his paid subscription service. He’s probably looking for a model in which users have to pay to get full Twitter service — and access to unlimited shares.
Come and go check
Indicated by a blue tick, “Verified” status was granted for free by Twitter to high-profile accounts — such as celebrities, businesses, and journalists — before Musk became president.
Now, most users have to pay a subscription fee of $8 (around $38) per month to get verified and status can be obtained regardless of the nature of your profile.
Some HD accounts still have a verification badge despite not being paid for, although many did lose their blue badges temporarily 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 did not want the platform to become an echo chamber.
Soon after taking over, Musk cut Twitter’s staff from fewer than 8,000 to about 1,500.
In an interview with the BBC, he said cutting jobs is 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 were short-lived and that the site was working fine.
“Hardcore beer fanatic. Falls down a lot. Professional coffee fan. Music ninja.”