In a fiery tweet, Elon Musk revealed today that Twitter will impose temporary restrictions on how much data users can access to prevent AI companies from scraping Twitter info and diminishing the experience of real users. Unverified accounts will only be able to read 600 tweets per day, new unverified accounts are limited to 300 tweets daily, and verified accounts—including those that bought Twitter Blue or got verified through organizations—can read up to 6,000 tweets per day, Musk tweeted. He said these limits are “temporary” and will soon go up to 8,000, 800, and 400 tweets.
Musk’s tweet got an unreal 400 million views, and he later retweeted, saying, “In yet another irony, this post achieved a record view count!”
Just yesterday, Twitter started blocking anyone not logged in from accessing the site. Musk said this was necessary because “hundreds of orgs (maybe more) are extremely actively scraping Twitter data, to the point that it’s hurting the user experience.”
This is one of many changes Musk has made since buying Twitter last fall. He launched a three-tier API pricing system, the Twitter Blue verification service, and appointed ex-NBCUniversal ad exec Linda Yaccarino as the new CEO to patch up relations with advertisers. Now that Twitter’s private, little is known about its money situation, but Yaccarino’s hire shows how much Twitter depends on ad revenue. Still, limiting how much users can read clearly goes against the goal of making more ad opportunities.
Musk accused companies trying to get data to train AIs like ChatGPT, Microsoft’s Bing Chat. But he didn’t mention laying off over half of Twitter’s staff since taking over, including key folks who kept Twitter running. Hasty layoffs led Twitter to rehire some fired engineers, and many warned that firing so many would destabilize Twitter. A major outage in March was caused by an engineer’s change.
Before this, Twitter owed Google Cloud months of bills, reflecting the “deep cuts” plan reported by Reuters to save millions a day on infrastructure. Last November, an anonymous Twitter engineer said, “Things will be more problematic, issues will last longer and be more severe…There will be minor issues at first but as backend fixes are delayed issues will compound until people ultimately give up.” Site reliability engineer Ben Krug added, “I expect major public technical issues within 6 months.” Now 7 months have passed.