Twitter has begun aggressively limiting how many tweets users can view per day. On Saturday afternoon, Elon Musk said the company would restrict unverified accounts to reading 600 posts per day and new accounts to only 300 tweets daily. Meanwhile, Twitter will allow verified accounts to read 6,000 posts each day. For most people, that means, short of paying for Twitter Blue, they can spend about a minute or two on Twitter before encountering a "rate limit exceeded" error. Less than two hours later, Musk said Twitter would "soon" ease the limits to 8,000 for verified accounts and 800 for those without Twitter Blue.
To address extreme levels of data scraping & system manipulation, we’ve applied the following temporary limits:
- Verified accounts are limited to reading 6000 posts/day
- Unverified accounts to 600 posts/day
- New unverified accounts to 300/day
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) July 1, 2023
Musk claimed the "temporary" limits were put in place to address "extreme levels of data scraping" and "system manipulation." The day before, Twitter began preventing people not logged into the site from viewing tweets. Like the usage limit, Musk has claimed the login restriction will only be temporary and was put in place in response to data scrapers. "Several hundred organizations (maybe more) were scraping Twitter data extremely aggressively, to the point where it was affecting the real user experience," Musk said Friday. He later claimed "almost every company doing AI" was scraping Twitter to train their models. "It is rather galling to have to bring large numbers of servers online on an emergency basis just to facilitate some AI startup’s outrageous valuation," he said.
Musk did not say what "new" means in the context of an account, nor did he say how long Twitter plans to restrict users in the way it's doing so currently. He also didn't state if viewing ads counts against a user's view limit. Either way, the restrictions severely limit the useability of Twitter, making it difficult, for instance, to verify if a screenshot of a tweet is authentic. A cynical view of the situation would suggest Twitter is trying to find ways to squeeze every bit of money it can from its user base. In March, the company introduced API changes that could cost some organizations as much as $42,000 a month. However, that move and the introduction of Twitter Blue don't appear to have offset the advertising revenue Twitter has lost since Musk's takeover. Limiting how many tweets, and by extension ads, users can see is unlikely to make the company’s remaining clients happy.